PLANS to increase train capacity, upgrade signalling and create hundreds of jobs on Sussex’s railways over the next five years will be unveiled today.

Network Rail has revealed a series of planned improvements set to start next year, which include 900 jobs being created at a major new signalling centre in the county.

The £23 million route operating centre at Three Bridges is due to be completed this year.

Between 2014 and 2019, Network Rail plans to improve track and signalling across the county so that more trains can be used to cope with the growing number of passengers.

The number of passengers using trains in Sussex has risen by 40 per cent in the past ten years and is expected to rise by another 30 per cent over the next ten years.

Power supplies to the rail network across Sussex will be upgraded so that longer trains can be used to deal with the increase in demand.

Longer trains

Work will be carried out at stations along the London to Brighton route to make them suitable for longer trains.

Further improvements will be made to the surrounding infrastructure such as stabilising embankments and improving drainage to help mitigate the effects of extreme weather on services.

As previously reported in The Argus, five years of work is to be carried out at London Bridge station that will cause changes and disruptions on the Thameslink services from Brighton.

Dave Ward, Network Rail’s route managing director for the south east, has warned that despite the large investment which will deliver significant benefits to passengers by the end of 2019, there will have to be trade-offs to achieve them.

Cost effective

He said: “The number of passengers using the railway continues to grow year on year.

“As the railway gets busier, the number of challenges increase and it becomes more complex than ever to run a reliable and cost-effective railway.

“As a result, we have entered an era of trade-offs. Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and reduce costs, and in many areas across Sussex difficult choices will need to be made.

“The huge growth in the demand for rail services since privatisation is set to continue.

“As the network becomes increasingly full, particularly in peak periods, the rail industry must be able to make balanced and evidence-based choices between providing increased capacity, improving punctuality and driving down costs.”

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