Railway line between Lewes and Seaford reopens after major upgrade

A major upgrade of the railway line between Lewes and Seaford has been completed, Network Rail said.

The final phase of work on the £25m project to upgrade the old signalling system with modern, more reliable technology, was finished over the weekend.

Signalling and trackwork continues as the sun rises over Newhaven Harbour and its former signal box. Picture: Graham Price

Signalling and trackwork continues as the sun rises over Newhaven Harbour and its former signal box. Picture: Graham Price

Part of the railway line was closed so the works could be carried out. There was no trains west of Eastbourne via Lewes as far as Brighton, Seaford and Haywards Heath, from Thursday (November 28), to Sunday (December 1).

John Halsall, managing director for Network Rail Southern Region, said: “I’d like to say thank you to the passengers who have been disrupted by this crucial work, which was needed to modernise the signalling system.

“I am extremely grateful that so many changed their plans for the four days to enable us to concentrate the work in this way.

“The alternative would have meant many more weekend closures for our engineers to achieve the same thing, so this has been much more effective for them as well as for us.

“The work means we can provide a more reliable service that passengers deserve and can depend on.”

On Monday (December 2), there were no trains running on the line due to a fault with the signalling system – a day after the upgrade works were finished.

Southern confirmed services were unable to run between Seaford and Lewes and that trains between Seaford and Brighton would be cancelled until further notice.

But Network Rail said rail passengers should now see the benefits of the upgrade.

“The new signalling technology at Lewes is controlled from the state-of-the-art route operating centre at Three Bridges, delivering a more reliable service with fewer delays for passengers,” said a spokesman.

“As a result of the upgrade, during disruption on the Brighton Main Line, three times as many trains and passengers can now use the diversionary route for London to Brighton services via Lewes, helping to keep passengers on the move.

“Track and points at Southerham junction, where trains switch track for Lewes, Eastbourne or Seaford had previously been renewed as part of the project, giving a smoother and more reliable ride.

“Thousands of Southern Rail passengers who rely on the line each day returned on Monday to brighter and cleaner stations.

“Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) worked together to use the closure to carry out a series of improvements at Seaford, Bishopstone, Newhaven Town, Southease and Glynde stations.

“We work closely with our local communities and so we know these station improvements will be welcome.”

Steve White, chief operating officer, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We’re pleased to welcome back passengers on the Lewes to Seaford line and I apologise to anyone that has been inconvenienced during these essential works. I am grateful for their patience throughout this project.

“Colleagues from Network Rail, Southern, and our suppliers have been a credit to the rail industry completing a significant amount of work whilst the line was closed.

“Customers will now benefit for years to come as ageing assets have been replaced with a modern alternative.”