Thousands of rail commuters face disruption and chaos

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Commuters could face long and difficult journeys to London on January 2.

Work to underpin a stretch of railway line at Ockley (pictured) after a major landslip will take “more than a week”, according to Network Rail.

The major landslip near Dorking is affecting services between Horsham and Dorking and, to compound the problems, over-running improvement works at Gatwick mean there are no services between Redhill and Three Bridges on the Brighton mainline.

The landslip at Ockley and the Brighton line problems mean there is no route open to provide a direct service between Gatwick and Victoria.

A Network Rail spokesman said at about 4pm today (December 30): “We’re still working on a final plan but it looks like being more than a week to get the Ockley work done as the location is very difficult to access.”

If the Gatwick improvement works on the Brighton mainline, which involve putting in a new platform and track signalling, can be completed in time for January 2, there is still some doubt over whether engineers can finish scheduled improvements at Purley.

Network Rail is replacing a major rail junction south of Purley. The work is due to end by January 2, but train operator Southern now says on its website: “The recent adverse weather may hamper some key elements of these works preventing the opening of the line, so please check before you travel.”

The ongoing uncertainty means there is no cast iron guarantee of a normal train service for thousands of commuters heading to London after the festive break.

Southern is currently running trains between London Victoria and East Grinstead with onward bus connections to Gatwick Airport.

Commuter Hannah Jones, who headed to London today (December 30) said: “I managed to get a lift to East Grinstead where there was a big queue for the platform, which was heaving with people. I made it to London but it wasn’t easy.”




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