4:40pm Tuesday 13th November 2012
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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