East Coastway Line
|East Coastway Line|
Lewes railway station on 15 July 2003 – looking east
South East England
|Depot(s)||Brighton – Lovers Walk
|Rolling stock||Class 171 "Turbostar"
Class 375 "Electrostar"
Class 377 "Electrostar"
Class 442 "Wessex Electric"
|No. of tracks||two|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC Third rail|
|Operating speed||90 mph (145 km/h) maximum|
East Coastway is the name used by the train operating company, Southern (formerly South Central Trains), for the routes it operates along the south coast of Sussex and Kent to the east of Brighton, England. Those to the West of Brighton are named the West Coastway Line. The trains running under the East Coastway name serve stations between Brighton, Lewes, Eastbourne, Hastings, Ore and Ashford, together with the branch line to Seaford, while the long closed branch to Kemptown (an area of Brighton) used to diverge just east of London Road Station.
The Brighton Main Line route to Eastbourne and Hastings, via Plumpton and Cooksbridge, shares the East Coastway line east of Lewes station, thus for completeness, the line from Lewes to Keymer Junction (where it joins the Brighton Main Line) has been included on the route map. Not included here, but having their own articles, are the Newhaven & Seaford Branch and Kemp Town Branch. The route has ELRs: BTL, KJE1, KJE2, KJE3, WJB and TTH. Also formerly PSC between Polegate and Stone Cross Junctions.
The Brighton Lewes and Hastings Railway was formed 7 February 1844 and received Parliamentary approval for the construction of a line between Brighton and Lewes 29 July 1844. Work was started by September, engineered by John Urpeth Rastrick, with the route crossing a valley with the London Road viaduct then running through the South Downs to Falmer before descending down to Lewes, with a station at Falmer. This section opened on 8 June 1846. By 27 June 1846 a single line extension was opened to just outside Hastings at Bulverhythe with an intermediate station at Polegate to serve Eastbourne (this section was later doubled in January 1849).
The following month (July 1846) the Brighton Lewes and Hastings Railway, along with other railways, merged to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. In November 1846 the bridge over the River Asten was completed and Bulverhythe station was replaced with Hastings and St Leonards station, later renamed St Leonards West Marina station.
For almost a year all services from London travelled via Brighton until a spur off the Brighton main line was constructed from Keymer Junction to Lewes and opened on 2 October 1847. On 14 May 1849, two branches from Polegate opened, one southwards to Eastbourne and one northwards to Hailsham making Polegate an important junction.
Lewes has had its fair share of stations. When the rail first arrived at Lewes, a terminus station was built in Friars Walk. Trains running from Brighton to Hastings first visited Lewes Friars Walk station then reversed out before continuing east. Platforms were built in 1847, known as Pinwell platforms, eliminating the need for reversing trains but were separate from Friars walk, a new junction station with four platforms was constructed and opened on 1 November 1857. Serving Brighton, London, Uckfield, Newhaven, Eastbourne and Hastings, the station was rebuilt and re-aligned 32 years later with the original route leading to the freight yards.
Another junction station on the line was at Polegate. In May 1849, two branch lines from Polegate were built, one southwards to Eastbourne and one north to Hailsham; both had left the station from the east which meant trains from Eastbourne had to reverse at Polegate. Although this was changed when the Cuckoo Line from Hailsham to Eridge was extended in 1880 and a new station was built 440 yards east and had four through platforms, the line to Hailsham was re-routed from the west of the station which eliminated the need to reverse trains from Eastbourne towards Tunbridge Wells.
Eastbourne station also increased in size as a terminal station. The present station is the second station in the town, built in 1880 and which once boasted four platforms, a locomotive shed and an extensive goods yard. A branch line was also built just north of the station heading east to the town's gas works and to the "Crumbles", an area of shingle which was once used for ballast on the railway line. The next station in the area was Hampden Park, built in 1888 as Willingdon, after the parish of Willingdon. The junction north of Hampden Park is called Willingdon Junction, where the route diverges either east or west.
A single line spur from Willingdon Junction to Stone Cross Junction was opened on 2 August 1871, forming a triangular junction between Polegate, Pevensey and Eastbourne and allowing direct trains to operate from Eastbourne to Hastings. This was doubled in 1862.
The remaining 0.25 miles (0.40 km) of line to Hastings were constructed by the South Eastern Railway in 1851 as a part of their line from Ashford to Hastings but the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway – obtained running powers over it.
This three-mile branch, constructed in 1862, led to a ¾-mile-wide shingle bank known locally as The Crumbles. The LB&SCR used the shingle as ballast for its railway lines. Ballast trains ran until 1932 when the Southern Railway favoured granite. Other branches appeared on the line; a siding was built in 1870 when the Eastbourne Gas Company built their works which straddled the line. Coal was transported to the gas works. In return it produced coke and was taken away and in 1926 a line was created for the Eastbourne Corporation Electric Works to transport coal, also supplying fuel to the bus garage and taking scrap metal away from the refuse destructor works. The branch saw its last steam engines in April 1960 and diesel shunting locomotives were provided for the work until the line closed in early 1967.
In 1905, the LB&SCR introduced motor trains and unmanned halts between Eastbourne and St Leonards West Marina and new halts were built at Stone Cross, Pevensey Bay, Normans Bay, Cooden Beach, Collington and Glyne Gap. All apart from Stone Cross (closed 1935) and Glyne Gap (closed 1915) remain open.
World War Two
During a daylight air raid on 25 May 1943 a German bomber dropped five bombs that hit the upper goods yard north of Brighton station and part of the London Road viaduct carrying the East Coastway line, along with other damage the bombs demolished two arches of the viaduct and killed one railway employee. Temporary repairs to the viaduct were soon made and by the year's end the damaged brickwork was restored.
In March 1944 the station platforms at Eastbourne were badly damaged during a German air raid, ripping up track and bringing down platform canopies. In 1942, railway employees were killed during an ARP exercise.
Brighton to Lewes (East Branch)
From Brighton, trains using the East Coastway line use mostly the eastern platforms, travel along the Brighton Main Line before turning east over the 28 arch London Road viaduct giving a spectacular view of the housing in Preston and Withdean in the north and the city to the south, before heading into a cutting where London Road (Brighton) is situated. The line climbs on a 1 in 258 gradient, through the first tunnel, Ditchling Road Tunnel, 63 yd (58m) in length. Shortly afterwards lay the junction for the Kemp Town branch, closed in 1971. Continuing the climb the route passes Moulsecoomb, opened 12 May 1980. Crossing Hodshrove Viaduct the gradient starts to increase to 1 in 99 reaching Falmer on a 1 in 93 gradient, then levelling out in Falmer Tunnel, 490yd (441m). The route now descends towards Lewes though the South Downs along a 1 in 88 gradient for around 4 miles, through the site of the former Lewes Priory, then levelling out at Lewes.
Keymer Junction to Lewes
Leaving the Brighton Main Line just south of Wivelsfield, the route turns south west passing through the northern edge of Burgess Hill and gently descending to Plumpton. The line speed along this section of the line reaches 90 mph still descending towards Cooksbridge slowing to 70 mph and passing Hamsey level crossing and turning south to run near the River Ouse and entering Lewes Tunnel, 395 yards and into Lewes.
Lewes to Eastbourne
Lewes has been the junction for other routes, two branch lines to the north: one for Eridge via Uckfield; the other to East Grinstead and beyond. Both leaving Lewes via the Wealden Line, splitting at Culver Junction. Leaving Lewes, the main line and the east branch converge and then sweep around a long curve over the River Ouse and under the A27 road to Southerham Junction for the Newhaven & Seaford branch. At one time, to the north side of the line lay interchange sidings for the then near-by cement works.
A mile further the route passes under the A27 road again at the base of Mount Caburn then passing Glynde which once had interchange sidings for two industrial branch lines; one to a clay pit and the other to a chalk pit. The line follows a near straight route to Berwick, then heading on a slight undulating gradient over the River Cuckmere and then downhill towards the current Polegate station the previous station, 330 yards west, was once a busy junction station with the former branch line to Eridge via Hailsham (Cuckoo Line) which closed in 1968. The East Coastway line then continued west towards Hastings avoiding Eastbourne and a branch line heading southwest for Eastbourne. The direct line to Hastings is now closed, and all trains run into Eastbourne and reverse to continue their journey. After a sharp bend the route follows a slight downhill gradient to Willingdon Junction, where the route to and from Hastings now runs. Shortly after is Hampden Park then over the flat Willingdon Levels to Eastbourne, a terminus station.
Eastbourne to St Leonards
From Eastbourne the route is reversed through Hampden Park to Willingdon Junction where the route turns west to the former Stone Cross Junction, where the route from Polegate once joined. Shortly after is the site of Stone Cross Halt, opened in 1905 and closed 1935. Then a slight gradient to Pevensey and Westham where the line now passes Pevensey Castle crosses the Pevensey Levels through the lesser served Pevensey Bay, opened in 1905 as a halt and is now only served at peak times. Passing the Beachlands estate on the south and a caravan site the line passes though Normans Bay; this station was originally opened as a halt and still maintains an hourly service. Continuing along the Pevensey Levels the line passes close to the beach before heading inland at Cooden Beach and Collington; this station was originally opened as a halt in 1905, being named in turn Collington Wood Halt, West Bexhill Halt and Collington Halt, before reaching Bexhill. The route next runs though a cutting to the site of Galley Hill sidings and then running along the coast past Bulverhythe and the depots of the Hastings Diesels and the Southeastern and going through the site of St Leonards (West Marina), closed 1967. The East Coastway line then ends shortly after at Bo-Peep Junction where the Hastings Line from Tonbridge continues though Bo-Peep Tunnel to St Leonards (Warrior Square) and through Hastings Tunnel to Hastings. Some trains from London and Brighton continue beyond Hastings to Ore where there is a turnaround siding, the old depot having been closed and re-developed. The remainder of the line to Ashford is named the Marshlink Line.
Passenger services are operated by Southern. Between Hastings and St Leonards West Marina the track is shared with Southeastern using their services on the Hastings Line and also shunting movements to the depot at St Leonards West Marina.
A typical Southern service along the route is:
- Hourly, London Victoria - Eastbourne
- Hourly, London Victoria - Ore via Eastbourne
- Hourly, Brighton - Ashford International via Eastbourne
- Hourly, Brighton - Ore via Eastbourne
- Half hourly, Brighton - Seaford
- Hourly, Brighton - Lewes
A Southeastern service is typically a half hourly London Charing Cross - Hastings.
The line is signalled by a mixture of semaphore signals and colour lights. Three Bridges signalling centre controls the route between Keymer Junction and Plumpton and Brighton to Falmer where Lewes Power Box takes over until Southerham Junction, from which absolute block signalling takes over through to Hastings. Signal boxes are situated at Berwick, Polegate Crossing, Hampden Park, Eastbourne, Pevensey and Westham, Bexhill and Bo-Peep Junction. There are two crossing boxes at Plumpton and Normans Bay. In 2013 a project by Network Rail sees the route between Lewes and St Leonards being upgraded to replace the semaphore signals and signal boxes to colour light signals which will be controlled from a new signalling centre at Three Bridges.
In circumstances when the Brighton Main Line is closed between Preston Park and Keymer Jn. services between Brighton and London are diverted via Lewes as a diversion.
- Eastbourne station rail crash – 25 August 1958; 5 killed, 40 injured.
- Bo-Peep Junction accident – 23 June 1861; 10 injured
- Falmer station accident – 6 June 1851; 5 killed.
A 1914 Railway Clearing House map of the eastern end of the East Coastway Line
- Turner, J. T. Howard (1977). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway: 1 Origins and Formation. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd. pp. 215–223. ISBN 0-7134-0275-X.
- Turner (1977), pp. 223
- Course, Edwin (1973). The Railways of Southern England: the Main Lines. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0-7134-0490-6.
- plate 27, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- plate 32, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- plate 29, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- plate 28, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- plate 29, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- plate 54, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- plate 85, Eastbourne to Hastings by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1986 ISBN 0-906520-27-4
- Moody, G.T. (1968). Southern Electric 1909–1968. London: Ian Allan. pp. 57–8. ISBN 0-7110-0017-4.
- plates 13 to 16, Brighton to Eastbourne by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1985 ISBN 0-906520-16-9
- page 27, An Historical Survey of Southern Sheds, by Chris Hawkins & George Reeve; OPC, 1979 ISBN 0-86093-020-3
- plate 112, Brighton to Eastbourne by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1985 ISBN 0-906520-16-9
- plates 72 & 73 plus map, Brighton to Eastbourne by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1985 ISBN 0-906520-16-9
- "Accident at Bo Peep Junction on 23 June 1861". Retrieved 5 October 2009.
- "Board of Trade – Railway department accident report, L.B&S.C.R., 16 June 1851". Retrieved 5 October 2009.
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