TRAIN passengers are facing 10 weeks of disruption as Network Rail trials evening engineering works on the Hastings to Charing Cross line.
Replacement bus services will be running every Monday and Tuesday night for the next couple of months as track improvements and maintenance work takes place.
On Monday nights, the stretch of track between Tonbridge and Wadhurst will be out of action with all services after 9pm affected.
On Tuesdays the line will be closed between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings stations, with services also halting at 9pm. The work got under way on Monday (September 16).
Train operator Southeastern says the schedule of work means there will be no engineering works on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
But commuters are not impressed.
One said: “‘Shutting the line to minimise inconvenience?’ Oh the irony!”
Another asked: “What I’d particularly like to know is whether passengers will be eligible for refunds under the ‘delay repay’ scheme, which typically pays out if a train is delayed by 30 minutes or more – which these obviously will be.”
But a spokeswoman for Southeastern, which runs train services along the line, said that because the operator is fulfilling its obligation to provide a timetabled service, passengers will not be entitled to compensation.
She stressed that the engineering programme was a trial which would be reviewed.
The Southeastern spokeswoman said: “Currently much of Network Rail’s engineering work is carried out over a number of small ‘windows’ of time and spread across several nights, weekends and on Bank Holidays. To help reduce the spread of engineering work on the line, Network Rail will carry out works on a Monday and Tuesday night on a trial basis. By increasing the time available to do the work this will reduce the risk of early morning engineering work over-runs, lessen the time needed to carry out daytime works at weekends and Bank Holidays, allow more time for asset inspection and regular maintenance and minimise the need for emergency, short notice engineering works and speed restrictions and give Southeastern more network capacity at times when demand is higher.
“This means there will be no work carried out later in the week, which has also allowed to us to meet long-running requests from passengers for a later service on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from London to High Brooms and Tunbridge Wells. While our research shows that these late evening services are relatively lightly used, we understand this will cause inconvenience and apologise to passengers who are affected.”