Why two key train routes in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey are closed during half term week

Works going on at Petersfield (left) and in the Mountfield tunnel on the Hastings to Tunbridge Wells line (right) Credit: Twitter / @NetworkRailWssx and @NetworkRailSE

Two key train routes across the South and South East rail network are closed across the half term week with people being urged to plan ahead of their journeys.

South Western Railway services are suspended between Haslemere and Havant and Southeastern trains between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells will not resume until Monday October 30th.

The closures are to allow for two major engineering projects, which started over the weekend, to continue.

It will mean passengers may have to replacement buses to get around. 

Havant to Haslemere closure 

Engineers will be installing new signals as part of the Farncombe to Petersfield resignalling programme, which will eventually allow more trains to run between Woking and Portsmouth Harbour.

Upgrades are also taking place on switches and crossings, which allow services to move from one track to another.

Babak Erfani, Network Rail’s senior signalling sponsor for Wessex, said,

"This is the third closure on the line between Woking and Portsmouth Harbour as part of the Portsmouth Direct Upgrade programme, which is progressing very well. 

"This closure is mainly to install new signalling structures and renew a vital set of switches and crossings, but we’ve made the most of it by carrying out a large programme of maintenance too.

"All of the work we’re doing is really important if we’re to run an efficient railway. The new signals that we’re beginning to install, and the switches and crossings we’re renewing, will mean that passengers can benefit from better and more reliable journeys for years to come.

"We really appreciate the patience of our passengers, who we advise to check before they travel, as buses will replace trains throughout the closure."

Hastings to Tunbridge Wells closure

Work being carried out on the line, which serves Kent and East Sussex, is designed to protect the route from further land slips.

Having been built in the 1850s, major subsidence took place in 2020 and 2004. 

New track will also be installed in the Wadhurst Tunnel and work will also be happening in Mountfield Tunnel near Robertsbridge. 

Scott Brightwell, Southeastern’s Operations and Safety Director, said,

"We know that closing the railway for a short period isn’t ideal, but we’ll make sure that all of our customers know exactly how to complete their journey between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells while Network Rail carries out this vital work. 

"Our message to our customers is to check their journey on the Southeastern website or app, and after the work’s finished they’ll return to a more reliable railway."