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Lewes-station(1)

image credit Lewes station: Network Rail

Network Rail engineers in Sussex will be working around the clock this week to finish upgrading the line between Lewes and Seaford with modern, more reliable signalling technology to reduce delays for passengers

The final commissioning, when the current system will be disconnected, and the new one switched on – will be carried out from Thursday 28 November to Sunday 1 December 2019. A rail replacement bus service will operate throughout the affected area to keep passengers moving during the closure.

The upgrade 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 that the signal boxes at Lewes, Newhaven Town and Newhaven Harbour will close.

The project will also increase the number of trains that can use the diversionary route for London–Brighton services via Lewes to three trains per hour. The improvement will give the Southern the flexibility to move three times as many passengers on the route when there is disruption on the Brighton Main Line between Brighton and Keymer Junction.

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.

Dan Athol, Programme Director for Network Rail said: “This is a much-needed upgrade to some of the oldest signalling in the country, with 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 in November. There is never a good time to close the railway and the alternatives would have meant impacting services over several weekends in the summer. Following our recent discussions with local stakeholders, we know this would have been unacceptable to the leisure and tourism industry here on the south coast.

“We continue to work closely with our colleagues at Southern, ensuring 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. Updated bus and train times for the closure period are now available at nationalrail.co.uk and we advise passengers to check before you travel.”

Over the four-days, services between Brighton and London are not affected but there will be no trains west of Eastbourne via Lewes as far as Brighton, Seaford and Haywards Heath from Thursday 28 November to Sunday 1 December 2019. A rail replacement bus service will operate throughout the affected area to keep passengers moving during the four days.