News: Network Rail Comes Out

Posted on 12th July 2018

On |Wednesday this week I went along with reps from the other business organisations to a meeting in Haywards Heath requested by Network Rail to disseminate information about what is happening and why on our rail network.

As you would expect, I was intrigued … I never heard of rail operators actually meeting up with the public to discuss problems.  I assumed that the policy has always been to keep passengers in the dark as much as possible about issues to do with rail travel.  However, when Orlagh Ennis, the Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Brighton Main Line Improvement Project, turned up at the meeting it quickly became clear that she was one of a new group engaged by Network Rail to actually go out and try to explain to the general public what is going on. They have clearly decided to improve customer relations.They aim to build trust through transparency.

Orlagh was an excellent communicator and gave us lots of information which presumably would previously have been denied to the public. Of course, the main thrust of the news she brought was bad for the immediate future of rail travel, but her point was really that in nine months time rail travel from Brighton would be much improved.

Between now and May 2019 Network Rail is replacing or rennovating  the track, points, signal systems and tunnels on the main line between Brighton and Three Bridges.  It will mean major disruption to services. It will have a severe effect on people who commute from stations in Mid Sussex.  They intend to upgrade the whole system (at last some investment in infrastructure) .

The blunt truths are that…

  • there will be 15 weekend closures between September 18th and April 19th, when only replacement buses will be available
  • there wil be a 9-day closure in February, from Sat 16th to Sun 24th when no trains will run from Brighton to Three Bridges or Lewes
  • there will it seems be no compensation for season ticket holders
  • they have contacted B&HAlbion to let them know that seven home games will be seriously impacted
  • they have contacted the people running Brighton Half Marathon too
  • the whole system will be upgraded
  • by the end of May it will be finished and work properly so that s many as 15 trains an hour will run in commute times
  • I asked her if this meant that people would no longer have to stand on journey to London she answered ‘Yes’

No doubt there may be further problems and issues in the future but I suppose you have to say that Network Rail are at last making an effort to become public-friendly.  They now have a PR department! It sounds horrendous when you look at the next nine months, but it just may be that the whole thing will be brought up to date so that it works efficiently.  Maybe we will soon be able to travel abroad without making invidious comparisons between the rail system in Japan/France/Austria/Germany and our own battered system.  You never know!

Plan ahead with  for all the information

Orlagh Ennis

Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Brighton Main Line Improvement Project

Back to News ›


"I am delighted to have a long-standing relationship with the BHBPA. Since its foundation the Association has gone from strength to strength and there is no doubt that it has brought huge benefits to its members and the business community as a whole through the partnerships it has formed with the local authorities, Sussex Police and local organisations. It is paramount that Burgess Hill businesses have an effective collective voice."

The Hon Nicholas Soames MP

"The BHBPA is a fantastic hub for our business community to get together and catch up, discuss important local issues and connect new and interesting enterprises."

Oliver Lashley , Director
(Pure Storm Digital Services )

"“We have been members of BHBPA from its inception, and seen the organisation steadily grow and expand into the dynamic entity it is today, bringing positive benefits to all its members.""

Peter Hook, Manager
(Computer Systems Engineers)

"The BHBPA is the most effective and dynamic business organisation I have ever worked with in over 30 years in Local Government. It has a very active and large membership whose points of view are taken seriously by all government structures. Peter Liddell does an excellent job in providing unique and enjoyable networking opportunities where members interact and discuss points of mutual interest. It provides a forum for businesses to discuss common issues, to share experiences and to play a powerful and meaningful role in the Burgess Hill community. The BHBPA provides important and credible support for all its members and ensures that their best interests are represented where necessary. "

Steve Cridland, CEO
(Burgess Hill Town Council)