Problems inside the Balcombe Tunnel in Sussex have closed a section of the main railway line from London to Brighton today.
Balcombe Tunnel is 1141 yards long and was built in 1840. The original brick lining has always had trouble with water seeping through it, and this has resulted in a series of catchments, almost like a pitched shed roof, being built inside the tunnel to catch water and direct it to the drainage system.
At 05:30 this morning (Friday 23 September) the driver of a Network Rail rail-grinder working in the tunnel reported that some of this catchment system appeared to have come loose from the tunnel lining. The tunnel was closed to any further traffic and an inspection team sent to investigate.
The inspectors advised that repairs should be made to the catchment without delay, so a Network Rail team from Redhill was mobilised to do just that. Repairs are estimated to take about twelve hours, so a Network Rail spokesman said that they plan to run a full normal service from the start of tomorrow’s timetable, Saturday 24 September. He stressed that there was no damage to the main tunnel structure, just to the drainage catchments. At no time were the travelling public put at risk.
Trains are suspended between Three Bridges and Haywards Heath and a bus replacement service is operating. Trains are still running from London to Three Bridges and from Haywards Heath to Brighton.