Four-day rail closure between Lewes and Seaford – all you need to know

Network Rail is advising East Sussex passengers to plan ahead as it announced it is to close the railway line between Lewes and Seaford for four days.

The four-day closure, from Thursday, November 28, to Sunday, December 1, is the final phase of a £25million project to upgrade the old signalling system on the line between both towns.

Lewes railway station. Picture: Network Rail

Lewes railway station. Picture: Network Rail

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.”

The old signalling system is to be replaced with modern, more reliable technology to reduce delays for passengers, a spokesman for Network Rail said.

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, added the spokesman.

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.”

The works 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, Network Rail said.

A spokesman added: “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.”

Buses will replace trains on various routes via Lewes during the four-day closure.

Services between Brighton and London will not be affected, Network Rail said.

On Thursday, November 28, buses will replace trains on the following routes:

• Haywards Heath – Lewes

• Lewes – Seaford

From Friday, November 29, to Sunday, December 1, buses will replace trains on the following routes:

• Haywards Heath – Lewes

• Lewes – Seaford

• Brighton – Lewes

• Lewes – Polegate

A limited train shuttle service will call at all stations between Brighton and Falmer, Network Rail said.

Full details of services changes can be found at www.southernrailway.com/lewes

From August, 25, the Newhaven Harbour level crossing will close permanently, said Network Rail.

An alternative route is via the Newhaven Harbour station footbridge. Passengers with reduced mobility requiring step-free access should use Newhaven Town station.