Following the last weekend of works, for the time being at least, it's a good time to bring this up to date.
Firstly, over the weekend of 1st and 2nd March, a further weekend long closure saw a much reduced scale of work being undertaken, including:
1. Rerailing from Preston Park to Patcham using CWR (L & W PW160 and trailer).
2. Further platform works at Wivelsfield, this time using a large mobile crane to move concrete slabs into place.
3. Follow up tamping between Wivelsfield and Rocky Lane, Haywards Heath.
4. Conductor Rail replacement through Haywards Heath Cutting (two Readypower Gigarailers and three trailers). This was very much a fill in, being through the area where the drainage work was undertaken throughout the blockade.
5. High Output Ballast Cleaning between Haywards Heath and Copyhold Junction.
6. Follow up work at Balcombe Tunnel Junction.
7. Major work at Cooksbridge Level Crossing, this being as part of the Lewes Re-Signalling scheme.
There then followed two weekends with the now novelty of trains at least to Brighton. The first weekend admittedly saw the closure of Keymer Junction to Lewes from Thursday - Sunday as part of the Lewes blockade, with further works at Cooksbridge Level Crossing as well as footbridge work at Plumpton. Then the weekend of 23/24 March saw a shorter blockade, Keymer Junction - Brighton. I was away that weekend but believe work included:
1. Re-Railing with CWR from Montpelier Junction, Brighton to Preston Park (two L & W PW160's and trailers).
2. Trackwork off Patcham Waterhall using a third L & W PW160 and trailer.
3. Insulated Block Joint replacement, I believe at various locations from Preston Park to Hassocks (including around Pangdean Sub-Station) using two Sonic Rail Doosans and trailers.
4. Preparation work for the Burgess Hill - Hassocks renewal work.
The weekend of 30/31 March saw another all weekend block, with the following work observed:
1. Re-Signalling/Power upgrade work off Patcham Waterhall, I believe around Pangdean, using a Sonic Doosan and two trailers.
2. Major renewal work on the southbound line just south of Burgess Hill Station using Quattro Plant machines (unusually as this was a plain line job). Around ten trains were used, the work including a section of very deep excavation back to the natural soil with a new sand base being installed.
3. Further works on Wivelsfield station, again using a mobile crane.
4. Further Conductor Rail renewal north of Wivelsfield using a pair of Readypower Doosans and three trailers.
5. Further IBJ work around Haywards Heath using a pair of Sonic Doosans and trailers.
6. Refurbishment of Haywards Heath Car Park access point long timbers.
7. Follow up work at Balcombe Tunnel Junction using a Quattro PW160.
8. Track work at Hamsey Level Crossing using an L & W PW160, trailer and ballast brush.
9. Catch Pit emptying at Cooksbridge Level Crossing using a pair of road only tanker lorries.
10. Further work on Plumpton footbridge.
This weekend saw Saturdays work cancelled after Brighton achieved a trip to Wembley. Sunday however saw the following:
1. Considerable works between Montpelier Junction and Preston Park including, I believe, further re-railing using CWR and heavy refurbishment work to two sets of points (although one set appears to have only been partially completed) using four L & W PW160's and trailers.
2. Recovery of scrap trackside boxes and cables from Patcham to, I believe, Burgess Hill using two TXM Gigarailers and four trailers. This work may not have been completed, as several cabinets are left upturned trackside around Hassocks with multiple Jumbo bags of scrap cable between Hassocks and Burgess Hill.
3. Tamping at Clayton Tunnel.
4. Follow up work at Burgess Hill.
5. Track work around Haywards Heath using another PW160 plus trailer.
6. Follow up work at Balcombe Tunnel Junction using a Quattro PW160 and trailer.
7. Track work around Balcombe Tunnel Junction using a pair of L & W PW160's, trailers and a brush.
This brings the main block of work to an end (although a further weekend closure is planned in the first week of June). Aside from the cancellation in February of the Patcham Tunnel renewal job, and the cancellation of whatever work was planned on Saturday last week, and whilst masses of work has clearly been completed, it looks like a lot is left to do. In particular, the situation from Preston Park to Patcham is really unclear. Although a lot of re-railing has been undertaken, there is still a lot of new rail not installed (in part due to the renewal job cancellation). It looks to me that this has been rather piecemeal, with gaps between sections which have been replaced. Several sets of points at Preston Park are also marked up for re-timbering, although to be fair this has only been done in the last couple of weeks.
There is also vast amounts of scrap awaiting recovery, particularly north of Clayton Tunnel (where some 700 tonnes of long abandoned scrap rail was recovered prior to the renewal work in October as it was in the way, much of which is left on the embankment), as well as from Montpelier Junction to Patcham. Indeed, on this stretch whilst some rail has been cut up, a lot is still in CWR form. It is not helped that four nights of scrap recovery by McCullochs in March was, I understand, reduced to only one night because of multiple problems including I understand, being unable to de-energise the third rail the first night! There is also Con Rail left around Haywards Heath Cutting.
But on a positive note, as a daily commuter and allowing for the problems elsewhere on the network, there appears to be a huge improvement in infrastructure failures causing delays. The early signs are therefore encouraging.