Brighton Main Line Improvement Project | Update
Bus Hub at Three Bridges
The bus hub has been operating successfully since Saturday with only minor teething problems. Whilst we know that these may have caused passengers some inconvenience, we are glad to say that they did not impact departure times or bus arrivals. Passengers were welcomed off the train at Three Bridges, with teams directing them to the correct bus departure gate, so they could catch their onward connection. Staff assisted passengers with luggage and those with accessibility issues via an alternative route. The undercover walkway and waiting area in the hub helped us keep everyone dry.
The bus operation largely worked well with positive feedback from passengers around the short wait times, frequency of buses, comfort on board the buses and treats being handed out at stations by our brand ambassadors.
While some confusion was caused around the existence of the fast bus from Brighton to Three Bridges, this was clarified over the weekend and on Monday. Given the size of the operation, it was not possible to run this route for the first weekend (due to final testing) and during the weekdays. However, please be assured that the fast bus service will run again this weekend similarly to other weekends.
The blockade has been an opportunity for us to conduct an unprecedented amount of essential work in this area and will help us improve reliability on this part of the network. From 01.00 on Saturday, 16 February, the teams arrived on site to mobilise the first 8 engineering trains and get work underway working against a strict milestone plan. There were five main work sites broken down by geographical location which further comprise 27 individual sites of work.
Since Saturday, the Balcombe Tunnel Junction was removed, excavated and the new track laid. Drainage works took place at Balcombe Tunnel, Copyhold Junction and at Haywards Heath. The teams have been busy cleaning out old drainage and laying new. This will remove the risk of flooding, make the track more reliable and journeys safer and quicker.
Signalling upgrades have taken place at Haywards Heath and Preston Park as well as from Hassocks to Patcham. At Preston Park, rails were renewed, signals upgraded and track circuits were converted. Cabling in Clayton Tunnel took place and brick work repairs continue throughout the week. Conductor Rail renewal took place at Burgess Hill and the cables have now been reconnected.
From Keymer to Lewes, track works and general maintenance have taken place. From Cooksbridge to Lewes, signal upgrades including conversion to LED lighting has taken place.
The programme of work is on schedule and the teams continue their work each day to ensure the service on the Brighton Main Line can commence early on Monday morning.
The blockade also gave us the opportunity to conduct some much needed work at the stations affected. As well as this being a good time to do this work with the stations being empty, it is also a gesture of thanks from us to passengers for bearing with us during the closure. At Haywards Heath station, the timber supports on both island platforms have been replaced and we have repaired, upgraded and deep-cleaned the station. The Plumpton station footbridge was stripped and primed and station timbers and platforms have been repaired. The top coats of paint will be completed during the three follow-up weekends. At Cooksbridge, the old bridge was looking tired and in need of refurbishment. We have replaced the stair treads on the footbridge and given the station a deep clean. Preparation for the level crossing works in March have also taken place.
At Wivelsfield, work on the platform is progressing. The team has renewed platform copers and started the planned programme of strengthening platform support work on Platforms 1 & 2. The remaining works to Platform 2 will be completed as planned during the three follow up weekend. In addition, there has been substantial general maintenance repairs to the station and stairways including deep cleaning and repainting.
We hope that once passengers return to their stations on Monday and throughout next week they will be please to see the improvements that we’ve made.
At Balcombe station, the old footbridge is being removed today with installation of the new footbridge on Thursday. While clearing vegetation at the Brighton end of platform two at Balcombe station, our engineers discovered a carving engraved in stone. The hand-hewn carving commemorates a strike by the drivers and firemen of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway which occurred on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 March, 1867. The dispute was over pay and working conditions and was resolved by the Wednesday of the same week