Rail chaos on line linking London with Gatwick and Brighton

Travellers on the main rail line south from London face severe disruption due to an electrical failure.

The Brighton main line, which also serves Gatwick airport and the Sussex coast east to Hastings and west to Chichester, is interrupted between the airport and Three Bridges.

Only one of the four tracks is available for trains to run on. Disruption is expected to continue until 2pm.

It is served by Southern trains from London Victoria as well as longer-distance Thameslink services from Bedford, Peterborough and Cambridge.

Southbound trains are terminating at Redhill or East Croydon. From Brighton and the coast, northbound services are turning round at Haywards Heath or Three Bridges.

Southern Railway is telling passengers: “You should not travel unless your journey is absolutely essential.

“There will be cancellations and delays across the entire Southern and Thameslink routes. If you do choose to travel you will need to use an alternative route for at least part of your journey

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“A select number of services will operate through Gatwick Airport between Three Bridges and Redhill for use by essential staff only.”

These are believed to be the links between Peterborough and Horsham, which will subject to delays of 20 minutes.

Travellers to stations between Eastbourne and Hastings are advised to use Southeastern from London Charing Cross to Hastings.

To the west, passengers to and from Portsmouth, Chichester and Bognor Regis have been told to use South Western Railway trains at London Waterloo.

Tickets for Monday 28 December will be valid for Tuesday 29 December.

Demand on the line is much lighter than usual: the whole line is in Tier 4, and air travel at Gatwick has largely collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel bans against the UK.

There is widespread disruption elsewhere on the British rail network.

High water levels on the river between Tiverton Parkway and Exeter St Davids has caused flooding between these stations.

Buses are replacing most trains trains between Taunton and Exeter.

“Disruption is expected to continue until at least the end of the day,” says GWR.

A signal fault between Luton and London St Pancras means East Midlands Railway services are not running to and from the capital. Passengers from Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby and Nottingham are told to travel via Birmingham.

Travellers to and from Leicester are told to travel via Nuneaton.

The East Coast main line from Edinburgh to Newcastle, York and London is disrupted in Northumberland between Morpeth and Alnmouth due to damage to the overhead electric wires. “Trains may be delayed by up to 60 minutes or revised,” says LNER.

A similar problem is afflicting the West Coast main line between Crewe. Macclesfield and Stoke-on-Trent. “Trains may be delayed by up to 30 minutes, cancelled or revised,” passengers are warned.

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