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image credit: Network Rail, Lewes Station

Network Rail is advising passengers in part of East Sussex to plan ahead as work to complete a major upgrade of the line between Lewes and Seaford means buses1 will replace trains on various routes via Lewes. This is for four days, Thursday 28 November – Sunday 1 December 2019.

Network Rail engineers will be carrying out the final phase of work on a £25m project to upgrade the old signalling system on the line between Lewes and Seaford with modern, more reliable technology to reduce delays for passengers.

The final commissioning, when the current system will be disconnected, and the new system switched on, can only be carried out with a closure of the railway in the Lewes area. Services between Brighton and London are not affected.

Paul Harwood, director of route Investment for Network Rail south east route said: “This project will complete the work which was started earlier this year and is a much-needed upgrade to some of the oldest signalling in the country. It will provide new state-of-the-art equipment providing passengers with more reliable journeys for many years to come.

“I’d like to thank people for their patience while we complete the upgrade. We recognise that there is never a good time to close the railway, but we will be working closely with our colleagues at Southern to ensure people are fully aware of the closures and the alternative travel options available to them.”

Keith Jipps, infrastructure director for Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “This major investment will improve the reliability of signalling and therefore our services for passengers travelling on one of our key Southern routes. Working with Network Rail, we will publish detailed travel advice as soon as it is available.”

This work will see signalling control of the Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford areas moved to Network Rail’s state-of-the-art route operating centre at Three Bridges, meaning the signal boxes at Lewes, Newhaven Town and Newhaven Harbour will close.

The project will also deliver the opportunity to reduce the impact of service disruption by providing the ability to increase the number of trains able to use the diversionary route for London-Brighton services via Lewes. Passengers have already seen significant improvements in train service reliability from works carried out recently on the Brighton mainline and these works will further improve services for passengers.

The signalling works will also support a rail link for the new aggregates facility at Newhaven Marine, helping to take hundreds of heavy goods vehicles of local roads.

Track, switches and crossings at Southerham junction, where trains switch track for Lewes, Eastbourne or Seaford has already been renewed as part of the project. The work will further improve journeys for passengers by reducing faults and delays at this busy junction.