Key West Sussex railway route reopens as services return to normal after 24 hours of disruption

Services are returning to normal on a key railway route in West Sussex after a significant signalling fault.
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No trains were able to run between Haywards Heath and Three Bridges in either direction, before 6.30am, this morning (Friday, October 20).

This was due to overnight repair works after a major signalling fault was discovered on Thursday morning.

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At 6am on Thursday, Southern Rail reported on X (formerly Twitter): “We've received reports of a fault with the signalling system between Haywards Heath and Gatwick Airport.

Southern Rail train. Photo: Stock image / National WorldSouthern Rail train. Photo: Stock image / National World
Southern Rail train. Photo: Stock image / National World

"A signalling fault has occurred this morning in the Balcombe area. Trains are having to be ‘talked past’ the signal in question by the signaller. As a result, trains have to run at a reduced speed on the line towards London.”

Network Rail engineers were called to the site but, in the meantime, Southern ‘had to make some alterations’ to trains which usually run through this area, ‘in order to reduce congestion’.

A spokesperson said: “A few trains may be diverted, including Southern services from London Victoria towards Littlehampton running through Horsham, instead of via Haywards Heath.”

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In an update shortly after 1pm, the train company said Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express’ Coastal bound and London bound lines were still being delayed when travelling between the Gatwick/Three Bridges area and Haywards Heath.

At 2.30pm, Southern said lines Between Haywards Heath and Three Bridges would be blocked for 30 minutes to allow engineers ‘onto the track safely to complete necessary works’.

A statement read: “Delays are expected to continue throughout the day as engineering work will need to take place overnight tonight.

"Southern services between London Victoria and Littlehampton may be amended or diverted. These services usually run via Hove but may run via Horsham.

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"If you are travelling from Brighton to Gatwick, you may need to change at Haywards Heath for a Gatwick service this afternoon/evening.

"A number of trains are expected to be unable to run between Three Bridges, Haywards Heath & Brighton between 2am and 6.15am affecting late-night and early-morning services which usually serve the Brighton route.”

Replacement road transport was requested but Southern said any buses would be ‘extremely limited’.

At 5am on Friday, Southern said Thameslink trains which would run from Brighton/Haywards Heath were due to start from Three Bridges ‘where possible’ and a Thameslink shuttle would run between Brighton and Haywards heath

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Some Southern trains between Eastbourne/Ore and Victoria ran between Eastbourne/Ore and Haywards Heath.

Lines reopened at 6.30am.

Southern Rail said: “We're working to return to our scheduled timetable, but please continue to check journey planners and station information boards before you travel.

“Our first services to and from Brighton this morning are expected to be extremely busy and may still be delayed.

"You should continue to travel as you normally would, allowing some flexibility with your arrival time to your destination.”