New signalling will mean more punctual trains

A new state-of-the-art signalling system, which aims to improve the reliability and punctuality of train services in Bexhill, is finally being installed this weekend.

After a delay of almost two years, Network Rail, which is responsible for the rail infrastructure, is to replace the ageing manual block signalling system currently in operation on the line used by Southern trains between Lewes and Hastings.

It is to be replaced with a new state-of-the-art three-aspect colour light system, which will be operated from Network Rail’s £21million Rail Operating Centre at Three Bridges.

The familiar signal-boxes and fixed ‘semaphore’ signals along the line will become redundant and will be removed.

The new system aims to reduce headway times between trains to around three minutes, making for more efficient running and reducing potential delays.

Under the present block system, for example, at certain times a train has to be held at Normans Bay for the train in front of it to clear Bo Peep Junction at St Leonards - three stations away.

The Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG) has welcomed the work.

A BRAG spokesperson said: “In real terms, there will be two practical benefits for rail travellers who use our Bexhill stations.

“There should be an immediate improvement in reliability and punctuality, and it should also enable rail stakeholder groups such as BRAG to push for faster services when new train timetables are being prepared .”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The planned work we’re carrying out this weekend on the line between Lewes and Hastings is part of a major investment project to upgrade signalling in East Sussex.

“Once complete, this essential upgrade will provide a better, more reliable service for passengers.”