Workers at Network Rail are set for a busy festive period as work to upgrade railway lines in the south begins.
More than 20,000 people will be working on the railway upgrade plan this Christmas – including a massive project to replace a section of railway and a bridge on the Brighton Main Line near Croydon.
This will mean there will be no trains between Croydon and Redhill from 10pm on Christmas Eve until early January 4 and the Gatwick Express will not be running.
A mixture of diversions and rail replacement buses will keep passengers on the move but journey times between London and Gatwick Airport will take up to 90 minutes. Trains from Brighton to Gatwick will be unaffected.
Network Rail route managing director Alasdair Coates said: “We have been working closely with operators to make sure people can still travel by train between London, Gatwick and the South Coast but it is important that passengers check journey times, as they will be longer than normal.
“Our engineers will be working around the clock over Christmas and New Year to replace an entire junction at Purley, to improve reliability and comfort for passengers.
“We realise that our work will impact a large number of people over the festive period, and we are grateful for their ongoing patience. With fewer passengers travelling than at other times, this gives us the best opportunity to do this scale of engineering.”
Gatwick Express passenger services director Angie Doll said: “This upgrade work means that it won’t be possible to run trains on the Brighton Main Line between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport, so there will be no Gatwick Express service during the works, and a heavily amended timetable to include bus replacements for certain journeys will be in place.
“We will get people to where they want to go, but journeys between London and Gatwick Airport/Brighton will take considerably longer than usual, so our advice is to check carefully well in advance of travelling and allow for the extended journey times.”
Network Rail’s project at Purley will see the junction at the north of the station, where lines from Tattenham Corner, Caterham, Redhill and Gatwick Airport meet each other, completely replaced with modern track and signalling equipment. In addition, a railway bridge over Old Lodge Lane, in Reedham, will be replaced.
Passengers are encouraged to check with www.nationalrail.co.uk or their operator before they travel.
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