Public’s views sought on improvements to rail bottleneck between Sussex and London

Major rail improvements to a problematic bottleneck could lead to easier and more reliable journeys between Sussex and London.

Rail bottleneck north of East Croydon
Rail bottleneck north of East Croydon

Frequently there are a number of delays just north of East Croydon caused by flat railway junctions, with services often having to wait while others pass in front of them.

With the large influx of trains, especially at peak times, this leads to a congested network and creates a bottleneck for services coming from the Brighton mainline and the Arun Valley line via Horsham.

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Network Rail is seeking the public’s views on its latest plans to remove what is described as the UK’s ‘most operationally challenging railway junction’ with a consultation running until Sunday September 20.

Improvements include replacing the current flat junctions with new infrastructure including viaducts, bridges and dive-unders to create clear routes for trains, reduce congestion and boost service reliability.

John Halsall, Network Rail managing director for the southern region, said: “I’m really pleased to see we’ve already had a strong response to the public consultation, and encourage both Brighton Main Line passengers and communities along the line of route who have yet to do so, to take the time to give us their feedback.

We know these proposals are critical as they are the only way to deliver a combination of more reliable, more frequent and faster services for passengers on the Brighton Main Line and its branches.

“Your views will help us shape our designs to deliver the best possible outcome for passengers, and wide support for the scheme will strengthen the case for investment in this region.”

Jonathan Sharrock, chief executive at Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “The Coast to Capital LEP area is one of the worst affected regions as a result of the restrictions needed to control the Covid-19 pandemic. Our strategic priority is to diversify and build resilience in our economy, supporting growth across all of our major sectors.

“Our ongoing area-wide Brighton mainline campaign aims to bring investment and long-term increases in railway capacity on the line which links our whole area and facilitates wider economic growth.

“Our region needs faster and more reliable transport links to enhance capacity, connectivity and resilience. Unlocking the Croydon bottleneck is critical to the success of this; we strongly support the proposals and continue to urge local businesses and residents to respond to the consultation.”

Steve White, chief operating officer of Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Southern and Thameslink trains through the area, said: “This is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the country and a huge constraint on the services we can operate. We welcome this planned investment which will make a positive difference to our passengers by improving performance and boosting capacity.

“There is one month left so I would urge people to take part in the consultation and support this scheme.”