Train bosses have postponed engineering work on the Brighton main line to make it easier for thousands of football fans to travel to Wembley to watch Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said today that they had been able to move the engineering work scheduled to take place on the main line on Saturday 6 April.
The date of the works clashed with Albion’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley so GTR and Network Rail said that they immediately held talks on ways to help fans travel.
Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, praised the track operator for heeding his call to halt its planned works between Three Bridges and Brighton.
Mr Kyle said: “I’m over the moon that Network Rail have agreed to postpone the rail shutdown so that Albion football fans can enjoy their day, without the hassle.
“This is a great moment for our city and it’s right that now fans can focus on supporting the team’s success.”
Paul Harwood, director of investment at Network Rail south east, said: “We congratulate the Seagulls on reaching the semi-finals.
“This match is incredibly important, not just to so many Brighton fans but also the wider Brighton economy, so we started planning to reschedule the work as soon as Brighton were through to the semi-finals.
“With the kick-off details confirmed yesterday afternoon we’re now pleased to announce our decision.
“Moving the work means we can accommodate the fans but also hold firm on our promise to complete our £67 million reliability upgrade to the Brighton main line.
“We will update passengers soon once we have confirmed a replacement date to complete the work before the summer.”
The work on Saturday 6 April will be rescheduled to another date yet to be confirmed.
However, the work planned for Sunday 7 April will continue as advertised with a rail replacement bus service in place for passengers.
Keith Jipps, GTR infrastructure director, said: “We wish the Seagulls the best of luck. By working with Network Rail to reschedule this essential work, fans will have a much easier journey from the south coast and back.”
George Hunt, the football club’s transport manager, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to work with Network Rail and GTR to successfully reschedule the work to allow our fans to travel to Wembley on trains instead of replacement buses.
“We’ve worked really closely with Network Rail and GTR over the past two years and look forward to working together as we move forward.”