COMMUTERS are bracing themselves for a week of chaos on the trains.

The southern end of the Brighton Mainline shut on Saturday for nine days as work on a £67 million upgrade continues.

There are no direct trains between Three Bridges and Brighton or between Three Bridges and Lewes until Sunday.

All surrounding services are affected as fewer trains will run.

Some areas of the car parks at Balcombe, Three Bridges, Lewes, Burgess Hill, Hassocks and Haywards Heath are closed.

It is half term and some commuters will have decided to stay at home.

But others will be taking the coaches laid on between Brighton and Three Bridges.

Partly funded by the Department for Transport as part of a wider £300 million programme, the project will tackle delay hotspots and boost reliability on one of the busiest and most unreliable parts of the network.

The work will renew and upgrade track junctions and signalling and shore up embankments to reduce the risk of landslides.

Together, Network Rail and GTR are making the most of the time the stations are closed by investing £800,000 into essential maintenance and repairs at Balcombe, Haywards Heath, Wivelsfield, Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Preston Park, Plumpton and Cooksbridge.

Keith Jipps, GTR’s infrastructure director, said: “While we will be very busy travelling to and from Three Bridges and London at peak times, there will be less demand for trains and buses to the coast and Brighton outside the rush hour.”

Freelance journalist Jim Hatley was among those left frustrated as a bus driver nearly got lost going the wrong way.

He was trying to get to his home in Brighton and got as far as Three Bridges where passengers were advised to get off the train and get a bus.

Staff told him it would be quicker than staying on the train and going via Littlehampton.

Mr Hatley said tents have been set up at Three Bridges to direct passengers and commuters could face an hour-long wait.

He said: “I had worked an 11-hour night shift and just wanted to get home.

“Then the replacement bus driver took the wrong turn and went the wrong way. He had to have a passenger next to him to tell him where to go.

“It was pretty shambolic.

“The bus drivers didn’t even have a satnav or maps to know where they were going.”