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Buses to replace trains on two working days through Lewes as £25m signalling upgrade is completed

Press release   •   Feb 20, 2019 14:38 GMT

Network Rail issued the following news release on 20 February:

Network Rail will be switching on a modern, more reliable state of the art signalling system to reduce train delays during a four-day closure of the railway in the Lewes area from Thursday 7 March to Sunday 10 March.

Rail services between Brighton and London will run as normal but there will be no Southern trains west of Eastbourne via Lewes as far as Falmer and Wivelsfield. Buses will replace trains at over 10 stations, journeys will take longer, there will be fewer trains between Eastbourne and Hastings, and services will be busy.

The closure has been publicised since before November last year with the passenger awareness campaign stepped up in January. Passengers should visit or for more information.

Paul Harwood, director of investment for Network Rail South East, said: “Our work to upgrade the Lewes to Seaford line will bring it up to modern standards, make it fit for the future and provide passengers with more reliable journeys.

“We know closing the line for four days is difficult for passengers and their journeys and while the Friday to Sunday are generally quieter days of the week, unfortunately the scale and type of work requires four consecutive days to make these improvements.

“This upgrade is in addition to the £67 million we have already spent on upgrading the railway in the wider Brighton area.

“I’d like to thank passengers for their patience and remind them to please check before travelling.”

Keith Jipps, Infrastructure Director for Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, added: “Our key objective while Network Rail carry out this work is to reduce the impact on passengers as much as possible.

“We will have buses where our trains can’t run, ticket acceptance with local buses, Thameslink and Southeastern, and extra staff ready to help. Passengers should travel outside the peak times where possible and allow more time for their journey. Please check before you travel at”


Editor’s notes

When the new signalling equipment is brought into use the signal boxes at Lewes, Newhaven Town and Newhaven Harbour will close and control of the signalling in the area transferred to Network Rail’s state-of-the-art route operating centre at Three Bridges.

Network Rail engineers will be working around the clock to complete the final phase of work on a project to upgrade the old signalling system on the line between Lewes and Seaford with modern, more reliable technology to reduce delays for passengers.

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.

Passenger advice

For four days, from Thursday 7 March to Sunday 10 March, there are no trains between the following stations:

  • Wivelsfield – Lewes
  • Falmer – Lewes
  • Seaford – Lewes
  • Polegate – Lewes

Between Brighton and Falmer a shuttle train will be replacing the normal service, running every 40 minutes, supplemented by buses.

Buses will replace trains. There will be:

  • A stopping service between Brighton and Seaford calling at several stations.
  • A stopping service between Brighton and Polegate calling at Lewes.
  • A limited service between Haywards Heath to Polegate, calling at Cooksbridge and Lewes.
  • A stopping service between Haywards Heath and Lewes calling at Plumpton.
  • A limited stopping service between Lewes and Polegate calling at Glynde and Berwick.
  • A service between Polegate and East Grinstead.

Passengers with rail tickets will also be able to travel for free with Brighton & Hove on routes 12, 25, 28 and 29

From 7 to 10 March, tickets from stations on the East Coastway for journeys to/from London will be accepted for travel on Brighton Main Line Thameslink services

On Thursday 7 and Friday 8 March, tickets will be accepted on Southeastern services from Hastings and St Leonards Warrior Square to London Charing Cross via Tunbridge Wells. 

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria,,,