Emergency work to replace two damaged rails on the Brighton mainline means passengers on the route are being urged to only travel if necessary this Sunday morning.
Engineers will start work late on Saturday night between East Croydon and Redhill, replacing rails with hidden defects spotted by Network Rail’s ultrasonic test train.
Leaving those defects unfixed could result in a broken rail.
For that reason, from around midnight to 2pm on Sunday there will be major changes to train services on the route. There will be an extremely limited train service with only one train every 90 minutes between London and Brighton, via Gatwick Airport.
What Network Rail refer to, euphemistically, as “challenges with bus driver availability due to covid” (they mean “problems” and “shortages”), together with significant engineering work on other routes also means only a very limited replacement bus service will run between Redhill and East Croydon.
Tickets will be accepted on Metrobus route 100 between Redhill and Gatwick Airport and on TfL bus services between Redhill and East Croydon. For further travel advice, visit Southern or Thameslink’s websites.
There is, meanwhile, major engineering work planned between Three Bridges and Arundel from Saturday August 14 to Sunday August 22, part of a £22million project to improve stations and replace old signalling and track. Passengers travelling on the Arun Valley line over the period are advised to plan ahead at networkrail.co.uk/ArunValley or at southernrailway.com.
Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway’s joint network operations director, Mike Paterson, said: “Our advice is to travel only if you absolutely have to while the work is taking place on Sunday morning, as we simply do not have the resources to run enough buses to carry everyone safely.
“We’ve got one line open, which will allow a very limited train service to run, but nowhere near what we would need to carry the normal number of passengers to the beach on a Sunday morning. Our team has tried to find different ways of getting this job done but we can’t put it off any longer and have to take this action now.
“Our test train picked up invisible defects inside two rails near Purley and the location of those rails means we will have to cut the damaged sections out and replace them.
“We’re keeping the line open until then by running trains more slowly, but that won’t work beyond a few days and we have to balance the need to carry passengers to the airport and the beach this weekend with our ability to do it safely.
“The nature of this problem means closing the line overnight Saturday and Sunday morning is the least-worst option. We’re really sorry to be causing such disruption this Sunday, especially with engineering work elsewhere on our railway at Horsham.”
Journey planners will be updated on Saturday August 14 and passengers are advised to check their journeys before they travel for the latest information and the best journey option.
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