Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Seaford review 1

Seaford railway station
Lewes to Seaford 22/3/08

Cost of ticket £12.50 (Southern Online rover ticket)

Dept: Lewes 11.28   Arrive: Seaford 11.46

Journey time:  16 minutes

Distance:  9 miles    Weather: cloudy/raining

Train type: 2 car  Class  EMU unit / (double track to Newhaven Harbour)

Railway company: Southern

Frequency of trains - one every half hour

Lewes station has five platforms with what looks like others that have been filled in. It's a large Victorian building in the middle of where the lines from Brighton and Haywards Heath converge. We proceed eastwards on a train which has started at Brighton and which runs every half hour throughout the day. There's a large chalk quarry on the left and then we go over the River Ouse and under the A23, before we leave the main Eastbourne line and go off in a south easterly direction. We travel across a flat flood plain, which has pools of water from the recent heavy rain, and in the distance we can see more of the South Downs, which the track moves around as we come to our first stop at Saltease. It has two raised up platforms and one bus stop on the eastern platform. There are no houses to be seen, but a few passengers alight here, as it's the best station for those who want to walk along the South Downs Coast Path, which passes the Severn Sisters and Beachy Head further to the east. We continue on over the flat landscape with no sign of any livestock in the fields. Soon after going over a level crossing we start seeing houses and small boats on the right, indicating that we are on the edge of Newhaven. On the left is a row of terrace houses all painted in different bright colours like these in the TV programme Tobermoray. There's some overgrown sidings on the right reminding us of when boat trains used to come past here. There's also a good smattering of light industry to be seen on both sides of the tracks, before we go under the main road and pull into Newhaven Town station.  One side of the station is bare with just a bus stop, whilst on the other side the original station building and canopy are still standing. We can see the start of the passenger terminal further down on the right and only a minute after leaving the Town station we come into Newhaven Harbour Station, with the original semaphore signal at the end of the platform. The station has a bus stop on one platform and on the other a canopy over the platform, but just a brick wall and no station building. There is a French ship in the harbour, the "Cote D'Alert" and by the side of it is a small low platform of Newhaven Marine "station", which is now rarely used by trains if at all. We now pull away to the east onto a single track, with the River Ouse on our right and views of the cliffs in the distance. There's a typical seaside caravan site on the right as we see the sea for the first time on our journey. The gradient rises steeply as we come into Bishopstone station. There's signs of two platforms, but only one is now used. The original station building still has its original wood panelled building and canopy, whilst the other platform is now derelict. The original cast iron footbridge is still in place though. We now move along a small embankment and into a cutting as we cut into the cliffs, before the land opens up again and we arrive at Seaford. The station is a single platform with a small car park next to it. The original station building is still in use and is painted in Southern livery. There is a second platform put no track is next to it. As you exit the station through the ticket office area you come face to face with a figure sitting by the door. It's actually advertising "Pauline's Gallery" which is housed next door within the station building. Also in the building is a pleasant buffet, where I get a cup of tea and a sandwich ready for my return journey.

Summary: This line will probably continue as it is, in spite of the run down character of Newhaven, which seems to be in decline. No doubt Seaford has plenty of commuters who work in Brighton (or even Eastbourne) who help keep the numbers up.           MC