The ArgusBacking for second line from Brighton to London (From The Argus)

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Backing for second line from Brighton to London

Campaigners are optimistic that their dream of a second railway line between Brighton and London could have moved a step closer.

East Sussex County Council is expected to favour building a new car park instead of a new road in the centre of Uckfield following a public consultation.

Campaigners for the Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) say the proposals for a southern relief road for the town would have added £20 million to the cost of building a line linking Brighton, Lewes and Uckfield to the capital.

BML2 supporters argue that the opening of a second line is the only solution to overcrowded services, with plans to double the current line, running double-decker trains or 16- carriage trains rejected as unviable.

Brian Hart from the BML2 campaign said that the Sussex section of the route would cost £315 million including tunnelling under the South Downs.

He said: “This could be a real rail revolution in the south and I don’t know why there’s this reluctance to do it.

“The land in Uckfield is a small hurdle in the grand scheme of things but it’s a great success when it seemed the county council was determined to build this road.”

Lewes to Uckfield

In a further boost to the campaign, Wealden MP Charles Hendry has asked rail minister Simon Burns to receive a council delegation to discuss the possibility of building the line.

The plans to reopen the Lewes to Uckfield line, which closed in 1969, has gained support across the political spectrum with Conservative MPs Mike Weatherley and Simon Kirby as well as Labour peer Lord Bassam all backing the plans.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Over the years we have used policies to protect the line and make sure that reinstatement could take place.

“As we move forward with this work we will plan around the possibility of the railway being reopened.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “The BML2 proposal was fully appraised as part of our London and South East route utilisation strategy, which sets the direction of rail strategy for the coming decades and was produced following consultation with train operators, passenger groups, MPs and councils.

“It is not being pursued as it does not provide the necessary capacity benefits.”

Future plans for reducing congestion around Uckfield station will be discussed by the county council’s lead member for transport and environment, Carl Maynard, at a meeting next month.

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Comments (7)

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5:41pm Tue 13 Nov 12

NickBrt says...

MPs and Lord Bassam have had a say on this. Any chance of Lucas crawling out and saying something please? fat chance.
MPs and Lord Bassam have had a say on this. Any chance of Lucas crawling out and saying something please? fat chance. NickBrt
  • Score: 0

6:52pm Tue 13 Nov 12

John Steed says...

with a perfectly good bypass around uckfeild one has to ask the question why is it grid locked around the station, I have for years believed the closure of the old line was stupidity and principly done to enable the building of a new bridge at lewes (pheonix causeway) which was not possible with the old line in place, however at £315 million there cannot be a sustainable economic argument for reopening it, surely reusing the old track route back to near hamsey and adding a junction north of landport, would be a much cheaper way, that would not involve any tunnels just a couple of level crossings.
with a perfectly good bypass around uckfeild one has to ask the question why is it grid locked around the station, I have for years believed the closure of the old line was stupidity and principly done to enable the building of a new bridge at lewes (pheonix causeway) which was not possible with the old line in place, however at £315 million there cannot be a sustainable economic argument for reopening it, surely reusing the old track route back to near hamsey and adding a junction north of landport, would be a much cheaper way, that would not involve any tunnels just a couple of level crossings. John Steed
  • Score: 0

7:54pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Thatsjustyummy says...

Quite happy with being able to get a seat from Buxted thank you. Don't want you filthy Brightoners on my train.
Quite happy with being able to get a seat from Buxted thank you. Don't want you filthy Brightoners on my train. Thatsjustyummy
  • Score: 0

8:21pm Tue 13 Nov 12

The Heretic says...

What is truly amazing is the total lack of any sort of statement from B&HCC beyond a weak and watery very generalised 'support' (some years ago), which in practical terms has amounted to nothing. Before anyone starts an anti-green rant, they're no more or less culpable than either of the main parties in council, neither of who did a thing during their respective tenures in the Town Hall.

While not wicshing to detract from his very vocal support today, would that Steve Bassam had demonstrated such energy when he was in a position to wield elected influence. Likewise, support from Messers Kirby and Weatherley is to be applauded, while Dr Lucas's deafening silence is less understandable given the Green position on transport.

John Steed is correct in stating that Pheonix Causeway in Lewes was ultimately the reason for the downfall of the original line, however back when the first proposals were made, ESCC promised a bridge to allow retention of the railway alignment. Guess what, it never happened, and it is only now that ESCC belatedly seem to be coming round to accepting re-opening the railway is the only practical solution to many of the transport issuess faced in the Wealden District. Better late than never though.

As regards Mr Steed's assertion that there is no economic case for substantial investment I would point out that Brighton station (alone in the City, not counting Hove or the other stations within our borders) has consistently been in the top 10 busiest stations outside London for many years according to statistics from the Office of the Rail Regulator. How is such a prime market unworthy of investment?

Each time the railway goes belly-up (over 20 times so far this year) or is closed for essential repairs, there is a very real cost not only to long suffering commuters in terms of lost time, but to the City's businesses. Engineering works (quite sensibly) tend to occur on weekends. This is a prime tourist destination. If an hour or more is added to journeys by the dreaded Rail Replacement Bus, you're looking at a major disincentive to tourists coming here for the day. Really sensible for a City which relies in no small measure on tourism for it's life blood or, NOT. No sustainable economic case? I don't think so !
What is truly amazing is the total lack of any sort of statement from B&HCC beyond a weak and watery very generalised 'support' (some years ago), which in practical terms has amounted to nothing. Before anyone starts an anti-green rant, they're no more or less culpable than either of the main parties in council, neither of who did a thing during their respective tenures in the Town Hall. While not wicshing to detract from his very vocal support today, would that Steve Bassam had demonstrated such energy when he was in a position to wield elected influence. Likewise, support from Messers Kirby and Weatherley is to be applauded, while Dr Lucas's deafening silence is less understandable given the Green position on transport. John Steed is correct in stating that Pheonix Causeway in Lewes was ultimately the reason for the downfall of the original line, however back when the first proposals were made, ESCC promised a bridge to allow retention of the railway alignment. Guess what, it never happened, and it is only now that ESCC belatedly seem to be coming round to accepting re-opening the railway is the only practical solution to many of the transport issuess faced in the Wealden District. Better late than never though. As regards Mr Steed's assertion that there is no economic case for substantial investment I would point out that Brighton station (alone in the City, not counting Hove or the other stations within our borders) has consistently been in the top 10 busiest stations outside London for many years according to statistics from the Office of the Rail Regulator. How is such a prime market unworthy of investment? Each time the railway goes belly-up (over 20 times so far this year) or is closed for essential repairs, there is a very real cost not only to long suffering commuters in terms of lost time, but to the City's businesses. Engineering works (quite sensibly) tend to occur on weekends. This is a prime tourist destination. If an hour or more is added to journeys by the dreaded Rail Replacement Bus, you're looking at a major disincentive to tourists coming here for the day. Really sensible for a City which relies in no small measure on tourism for it's life blood or, NOT. No sustainable economic case? I don't think so ! The Heretic
  • Score: 0

7:51am Wed 14 Nov 12

Tailgaters Anonymous says...

Given that much of the former railway land has returned to private ownership this proposal will never come to pass as the economic & financial justification is slender to say the least!

Apart from that travel on the Uckfield/East Croydon line can only be at a modest pace when currently travellers require faster, convenient modes of transport. Half an hour minimum extra time to London compared to Haywards Heath/London, 12 miles to the West.

Reality check someone!!

Perhaps ESCC redundant staff will form a quango to oversee this project and conclude it is not viable in five years' time!
Given that much of the former railway land has returned to private ownership this proposal will never come to pass as the economic & financial justification is slender to say the least! Apart from that travel on the Uckfield/East Croydon line can only be at a modest pace when currently travellers require faster, convenient modes of transport. Half an hour minimum extra time to London compared to Haywards Heath/London, 12 miles to the West. Reality check someone!! Perhaps ESCC redundant staff will form a quango to oversee this project and conclude it is not viable in five years' time! Tailgaters Anonymous
  • Score: 0

9:16am Wed 14 Nov 12

Uncle_Meat says...

Years ago when I used to commute from Brighton to London I remember idly wondering why, when we were constantly stuck behind a 'slow/stopping' train, that we couldn't use the multiple tacks to my left and right to overtake. They are all rusty and unused of course, but surely most of the infrastructure must still exist for a multiple lane train highway to London?
Of course it will all grind to a halt again when they get within a mile of London Bridge!
Years ago when I used to commute from Brighton to London I remember idly wondering why, when we were constantly stuck behind a 'slow/stopping' train, that we couldn't use the multiple tacks to my left and right to overtake. They are all rusty and unused of course, but surely most of the infrastructure must still exist for a multiple lane train highway to London? Of course it will all grind to a halt again when they get within a mile of London Bridge! Uncle_Meat
  • Score: 0

10:27am Wed 14 Nov 12

The Heretic says...

Tailgaters Anonymous wrote:
Given that much of the former railway land has returned to private ownership this proposal will never come to pass as the economic & financial justification is slender to say the least!

Apart from that travel on the Uckfield/East Croydon line can only be at a modest pace when currently travellers require faster, convenient modes of transport. Half an hour minimum extra time to London compared to Haywards Heath/London, 12 miles to the West.

Reality check someone!!

Perhaps ESCC redundant staff will form a quango to oversee this project and conclude it is not viable in five years' time!
"much of the former railway land has returned to private ownership" - Tailgaters Anonymous

“It is one of the few corridors that is largely unbreached” – Network Rail

Both statements are true. Key land at Lewes HAS been lost to road development, with the result that traffic always flows well through Lewes - Oh, wait - no, it doesn't! The formation north of Lewes is in agricultural use, though pretty much intact. Uckfield old station's status is mentioned in the article.

In reality, the 8 or so miles north of Lewes presents no major problem - if the will is there to re-open the line. Even Norman Baker MP, whist pointedly ignoring issues afflicting Brighton (nothing new there!) is in favour of re-opening this stretch, which leaves Lewes. Mr Baker's assertion that the proposed Ashcombe Tunnel would pass under swathes of housing simply proves he's not understood, or bothered to study the proposal.

The reality check needed here is a realisation of the seriously detrimental effect an overcrowded unreliable railway is having on our city, and the wider area. Economic investment and growth IS being badly affected by poor transport infrastructure. It boots nothing to ignore very evident problems and pretend everything's OK. It isn't. Yes, BML2 WILL require serious investment. Nothing on the scale of the high speed rail projects, and far less than the £1billion plus being invested in rebuilding Reading station, never mind the London Bridge / Thameslink or Crossrail schemes, but for that, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Kent get reliable rail services with far more seats for commuters who are currently expected to put up with standing in return for exorbitantly priced season tickets.

Uncle_Meat mentions capacity problems at the London end, and he's quite right. BML2 has a proposal to solve these, and the present rebuilding of London Bridge station will also ease matters once it's completed, but that still leaves the capacity and reliability issues on the Brighton line unsolved.

Current capacity issues have been highlighted for years, reliability issues for decades. The tired excuses trotted out by the DfT don't even address their own inaction, never mind the problems on the rail network which THEY are charged with overseeing. The question really is, "Can we afford to keep on doing nothing?"
[quote][p][bold]Tailgaters Anonymous[/bold] wrote: Given that much of the former railway land has returned to private ownership this proposal will never come to pass as the economic & financial justification is slender to say the least! Apart from that travel on the Uckfield/East Croydon line can only be at a modest pace when currently travellers require faster, convenient modes of transport. Half an hour minimum extra time to London compared to Haywards Heath/London, 12 miles to the West. Reality check someone!! Perhaps ESCC redundant staff will form a quango to oversee this project and conclude it is not viable in five years' time![/p][/quote]"much of the former railway land has returned to private ownership" - Tailgaters Anonymous “It is one of the few corridors that is largely unbreached” – Network Rail Both statements are true. Key land at Lewes HAS been lost to road development, with the result that traffic always flows well through Lewes - Oh, wait - no, it doesn't! The formation north of Lewes is in agricultural use, though pretty much intact. Uckfield old station's status is mentioned in the article. In reality, the 8 or so miles north of Lewes presents no major problem - if the will is there to re-open the line. Even Norman Baker MP, whist pointedly ignoring issues afflicting Brighton (nothing new there!) is in favour of re-opening this stretch, which leaves Lewes. Mr Baker's assertion that the proposed Ashcombe Tunnel would pass under swathes of housing simply proves he's not understood, or bothered to study the proposal. The reality check needed here is a realisation of the seriously detrimental effect an overcrowded unreliable railway is having on our city, and the wider area. Economic investment and growth IS being badly affected by poor transport infrastructure. It boots nothing to ignore very evident problems and pretend everything's OK. It isn't. Yes, BML2 WILL require serious investment. Nothing on the scale of the high speed rail projects, and far less than the £1billion plus being invested in rebuilding Reading station, never mind the London Bridge / Thameslink or Crossrail schemes, but for that, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Kent get reliable rail services with far more seats for commuters who are currently expected to put up with standing in return for exorbitantly priced season tickets. Uncle_Meat mentions capacity problems at the London end, and he's quite right. BML2 has a proposal to solve these, and the present rebuilding of London Bridge station will also ease matters once it's completed, but that still leaves the capacity and reliability issues on the Brighton line unsolved. Current capacity issues have been highlighted for years, reliability issues for decades. The tired excuses trotted out by the DfT don't even address their own inaction, never mind the problems on the rail network which THEY are charged with overseeing. The question really is, "Can we afford to keep on doing nothing?" The Heretic
  • Score: 0

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