As someone who used to commute to London on the Brighton main-line, I know the frustrations of expensive train tickets, coupled with long waits on the platform, and the prospect of train cancellations, minutes before the train is due to arrive. But when it comes to planned train cancellations, what can we do in order to plan ahead?
On average, 300,000 people use the Brighton main-line every day, the majority of that number is made up of commuters, the rest are people making the journey for leisure. Next week the Brighton main-line is under-going a 9-day upgrade plan, whereby they will close the line between Three Bridges and Brighton, as well as all London bound trains from Brighton being diverted via Littlehampton and Horsham.
Unfortunately, the Brighton line is known as being the “most unreliable network in the UK”, so as much as this planned upgrade will effect commuters, we need to be accepting of the fact that without this upgrade, the line will continue to deteriorate in the months and years ahead. So in hindsight, 9 days isn’t the end of the world. We can all agree it’s not convenient, but there are other things we can do in order to make peace with the fact.
Network Rail planned the refurb works to be held during half-term, with the hopes that the line will be less congested, hoping that people will use their annual leave, or have the advantage of working from home. This won’t be the case for some passengers, however, so what are their plans for those people? They will be running a reduced service, with longer commutes and even rail-replacement buses. They have advised that people allow a considerable amount of extra time and a level of flexibility.
So what exactly are Network Rail planning to do during these 9-days of disruption? “The improvement project is focussing on the Southern end of the Brighton Main Line between Three Bridges and Brighton. Major engineering work is planned for the Victorian-era tunnels at Balcombe, Clayton, Haywards Heath and Patcham and the railway which runs through them.
We are stemming leaks into the tunnels and improving drainage, while the third rail power supply and signalling are also being replaced or upgraded.
Elsewhere on the closed section, we are replacing the track and sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks.”
Network Rail are working with Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink on a large-scale passenger communications campaign to ensure all passengers affected by the closures have the information they need to plan ahead. So my advice for you, is keep up to date on their socials, plan ahead, leave plenty of time and finally, be patient. In the long-run this will benefit hundreds of thousands of passengers, improving journeys and making the dreaded commute that slight bit better.
After years and years of issues on this line, we’re all hoping that this £67 million upgrade project will be the magical fix for the delays and day-to-day disruptions on this line, but will this line ever be completely fixed? 300,000 people will be hoping so anyway!