McLoughlin asks Network Rail to consider Brighton Main Line 2
Published on Friday, 10 May 2013 06:07
Secretary of State for Transport the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin is commissioning Network Rail to undertake a study into increasing rail capacity between London and the South Coast.
Specifically, he is asking whether reopening the Uckfield–Lewes line “will meet the demand for the future growth in rail travel.”
Visiting Lewes, Patrick McLoughlin said: “I am alive to local interest in re-opening this line and wider concerns about rail capacity between London and the south coast and this is why I have commissioned this study. It will help us to understand exactly what the issues are and build upon previous work that has looked at these questions.”
He met Lewes MP and Transport Minister Norman Baker, who has always supported reconnecting Lewes, but who remains opposed to the Brighton Main Line 2 Project – reviving direct Brighton–London services.
Network Rail now has nowhere to go in increasing capacity because the Brighton Line is full and cannot be expanded. Recently Lord Adonis told Lord Bassam of Brighton it was “stark staring obvious” that Brighton needs its second main line, whilst the City’s MPs, councillors and Lord Bassam are all backing BML2.
Brian Hart, who instigated the Wealden Line Campaign 27 years ago and is BML2’s Project Manager, said yet another Lewes–Uckfield study would meet precisely the same fate as all the others over the past forty years. “Network Rail’s 2008 Study proved beyond doubt there was neither a business case, nor an answer to their capacity conundrum by opening a local line.”
He said the root of the problem was the absence of an additional direct Brighton–London main line which could only be addressed with BML2’s new Ashcombe tunnel through the South Downs. “Tunnel construction is easy and has been revolutionised as Crossrail is demonstrating – it’s akin to pushing an apple corer through cheese.”
The DfT said: “Recent moves to devolve decision making for local transport schemes will also give greater freedom to local councils and enterprise partnerships to determine priorities and allocate funding accordingly.”
However, Brian Hart said: “Whilst we are all heartened that Patrick McLoughlin is “alive” to opening the line, this is not a local issue but a massive problem for London and the South East. It can’t be done on a shoestring. Without BML2 the region will ultimately reach rail gridlock as this is the only realistic means of providing the capacity so badly needed.”
Also, see our earlier article in opposite column
WHY BML2 WILL SUCCEED WHERE ‘LEWES – UCKFIELD’ FAILED
Published on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 08:45
For well over forty years attempts to reopen a seven-mile rail connection between Lewes and Uckfield have failed. British Rail attempted it in 1971; Network SouthEast in 1987; Railtrack and Connex in 2001; Kilbride in 2006; Network Rail in 2008.
There have also been countless studies; notably by Atkins; Steer Davies Gleave; Mott MacDonald, Sinclair Knight Merz, etc., to name a few.
All failed because they were unable to resolve the fundamental problem – the inability to restore direct services between Brighton and London via Uckfield – the foremost and largest driver of demand.
Relief of the Brighton Line is essential and growing more urgent by the day as usage rises between the South Coast and London.
The loss of those direct Brighton rail services in 1969 (on a railway through Lewes town centre) was the actual tragedy – rather than the physical rail link between the two East Sussex towns of Lewes and Uckfield.
As successive transport ministers have pointed out, every reopening report could only offer an eastward-facing connection into Lewes – rather than directly into Brighton. Furthermore, as undeniably proved by Network Rail’s extremely poor business case, such a proposition will always be unworkable and of relatively little value to the industry.
That is why BML2 is so vital to the South and will succeed with Ashcombe tunnel through the South Downs, thereby enabling substantially more trains to operate between Brighton and London.
New journey opportunities and destinations across the South East will come with BML2, whilst there will be lasting relief and room for growth on the overloaded Brighton and Tonbridge main lines.
Since 1986, the Wealden Line Campaign has consistently called for investment in the South East network to provide the expansion we always believed would be needed.
This week we also launch our new website which not only details our long struggle, our troughs and near-triumphs, but why we, our members and supporters, are passionate about the exciting Brighton Main Line 2 Project.
CLICK HERE to read the reasons why Lewes - Uckfield failed