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Important BML2 Information, Facts, Figures and News Reports

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Private sector leading the way on Brighton Main Line 2

 

The Daily Grind of London Commuters

 

The daily grind for millions of London and South East

commuters needs a multi-billion solution to transform

the grossly-overloaded network

 


 

The Labour Party’s recent manifesto boldly declared it would ‘build a new Brighton Main Line for the south-east’.

 

Industry journal Construction News said: ‘With passenger numbers only expected to increase, the need for solutions to the overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line will grow over this government and the next and whether under a Labour or Conservative government, through public or private money, built partially or completely, the construction of a new multi-billion-pound rail line in the South-east could be a likely solution.’

 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is currently awaiting private sector proposals to fund, build and deliver BML2 – which has been radically transformed to provide a fast tunnelled link between Croydon, Canary Wharf and Stratford.

 

Meetings between investors, legal experts and developers are continuing, whilst engineers and construction companies have come forward to offer their expertise. Detailed design work is anticipated to commence later this summer.

 

Meanwhile, Network Rail’s latest Kent Route Study says: ‘there are no clear or simple options to provide additional capacity into London.’ Cannon Street and Charing Cross are ‘effectively full’. However, room for five additional services into London is needed in the years ahead – but this cannot be accommodated.

 

This is why BML2’s Kent Phase is of such critical importance because it would provide four additional trains per hour into London and be the biggest boost imaginable to the network and the region.

 

As the United Kingdom stands on the threshold of a new era outside the EU and open to global markets, there has never been a better time for all concerned to come together – private investors, construction companies, the rail industry and politicians of all parties and get behind Brighton Main Line 2.

 

For more detail CLICK HERE to read the full article

What is the BML2 Project?

Since its inception in 2010, the BML2 Project has evolved and even now is being further developed and enhanced.

 

Its principal aim is to substantially improve and enlarge the South East’s rail network by introducing new main lines whereby more services into London may operate. These new services would also usefully connect counties on both sides of the Thames by passing through the rapidly expanding eastern side of the capital.

 

So, despite what its name suggests, it is also a great deal more than just relieving pressure on the country's busiest and most congested rail route – the London-Brighton Line. Additionally, BML2 would not only be of great benefit to hard-pressed commuters, but would also restore valuable strategic rail links across Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

The BML2 Project can be summarised in three phases:-

Sussex phase:
Restoration of Sussex’s second-most important main line. This requires reopening the seven-mile ‘missing link’ between Uckfield and Lewes to provide a new direct route from Eastbourne, Seaford & Newhaven to London via Uckfield.


The construction of Ashcombe tunnel beneath the South Downs to deliver a fast, direct link into the City of Brighton & Hove, thus making it possible to operate many more trains between London and the Sussex Coast.


Put Falmer – the home of Brighton & Hove Albion (Amex stadium) and the University of Sussex – on a main line to London. This would make these important and expanding destinations more accessible from Sussex, Surrey, Kent, London and East Anglia.


Considerably reduce pressure on the Brighton Main Line to provide better conditions for travellers rather than forcing people to stand in crowded aisles for long parts of the journey.


Kent phase:
Re-instatement of the former main line into Tunbridge Wells (West) from both the north (Ashurst) and south (Eridge) directions, thus linking the borough and western Kent fully into the core BML2 route.


Develop Tunbridge Wells (West) as a major commuter station and thereby reduce pressure on the Tonbridge Main Line into London. This route is similarly one of the most congested rail lines in the country, over which Network Rail says it is not possible to operate any more services into London at peak times.


Give Tunbridge Wells, which continues to be a fast-growing centre of commuting, direct train services to Canary Wharf but without today’s need to travel into central London and out again. 


Open up Tunbridge Wells for business, tourism and trade from Brighton and across a wide area of Sussex and Surrey.

London phase:
This is the most ambitious of the three phases and will easily be the most expensive – but it has the greatest potential and reward for all involved.

 

International investors are backing BML2 and in 2017 upgraded the project through London. In place of the original proposal to attempt reopening the partially-redundant rail corridor from Selsdon (south Croydon) to Lewisham via Elmers End, funding is now available to build a completely tunnelled fast line from Croydon into London. This has been termed by the London & Southern Counties Railway Consortium (LSCR) as ‘The London link’

 

Their proposal is a new subterranean line commencing south of Croydon (connecting all lines from the Sussex Coast); a new station in central Croydon (for interchange with East Croydon) then running fast to Lewisham to connect with the forthcoming extension of the Bakerloo Underground line. Interchange with North Kent services would also be possible.

 

Canary Wharf would be the next stop, for Crossrail and Jubilee line services and Docklands area.

 

Stratford comes next where interchange with Crossrail, Stratford International HS1, London Underground and national rail services would be possible. Further enhancements are being planned by LSCR and will be revealed at a later date.

 

BML2 map 2017 360
CLICK HERE to see a larger version of the BML2 Route Map


BML2 does not merely provide faster journeys between Brighton and the expanding areas in London – commuters from many towns across the South East will directly benefit from increased destinations. Towns such as Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Seaford, Horsham, Chichester and many more, will be more accessible by train and have greater access to other places. Relieving the pressure of overcrowding will also benefit Hassocks, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Crawley and Croydon, etc. Nearby towns will also benefit from increased business, particularly those involved in tourism.

Gatwick is the country's second busiest airport which needs better rail links and services into London. BML2 would deliver a superior connection to Docklands and Canary Wharf. It would also be possible to introduce direct rail services to Stansted airport from the south, enabling both airports to work together with superior services through the expanding Docklands area. Other services to central London termini would continue as now.

With vastly-improved cross-London connections, commuters and tourists will find it easier to explore a greater part of the country – not just Sussex and Kent, but also Surrey, East Anglia and beyond.

 

 

 

 

BML2 Sussex Phase 2017

Is BML2 just a fancy name for reopening the Uckfield to Lewes link?
No, it is a much better project which will achieve the goal of reopening this link. Before this section of line was closed, the route was worked with direct through services running between Brighton and London, as well as between Brighton and Tonbridge via Tunbridge Wells. The link was NOT closed as a result of the Beeching Report and British Railways had no intention of relinquishing this important secondary route between London and the Sussex Coast.

 

It was closed as a result of East Sussex County Council’s ‘Lewes Inner Relief Road Scheme’ the first stage of which required the closure and removal of the Uckfield line through Lewes town centre in 1969. Every reopening scheme since that time has only ever envisaged using a version of the early Victorian alignment (1858-1868) which ran via Hamsey between 1858 and 1868 (when the ‘improved’ direct line to Brighton through Lewes was opened 1868-1969). However, the big drawback with this old Victorian spur is that it would bring trains into Lewes ‘the wrong way’ – that is they would face towards Eastbourne rather than Brighton.

 

So why can’t we just reverse the trains at Lewes?
They can during emergencies, as occasionally happens when the BML is blocked between Wivelsfield and Brighton. However, to have timetabled trains constantly reversing would cause perpetual conflicts between train movements because Lewes isn’t a terminus. It would also be time-wasting and unattractive to rail users. Consultants Mott MacDonald attempted to devise a turnback siding in 1997, but it simply wasn’t practical. Lewes is also hindered by very severe speed restrictions, so London – Brighton journeys via Lewes would be frustratingly slow.

 

Couldn’t people just change trains at Lewes?
In theory yes, but that is a very unattractive option as people want direct journeys whenever possible. This is why all the previous studies into reopening have foundered, because the direct route to Brighton was lost. We have to accept that the City of Brighton and Hove is the principal driver of demand and growth.

 

Is it true BML2 would bypass Lewes?
Most certainly not – despite what some keep trying to suggest. The Wealden Line Campaign would never abandon Lewes, Eastbourne, Newhaven and Seaford in favour of Brighton. Following the disastrous conclusions of the 2008 Lewes-Uckfield Reinstatement Study by East Sussex County Council and Network Rail, this great project faced oblivion. Going to Lewes is equally justisfied, but we have to restore those all-important direct services between the Uckfield line and Brighton. Lewes would be overwhelmed if all rail traffic was sent through here.

 

Would the old Hamsey spur be relaid?
No. This connection was considered by Network Rail in 2008 but rejected in favour of a new alignment avoiding nearby dwellings and running slightly further west. BML2 proposes a slightly different connection into Lewes and a bit further away from Hamsey although it is of the same curvature as the Network Rail plan, so it would support modern day operation.

Is there any guarantee that Lewes wouldn’t be bypassed?
No one, including Network Rail (as they have told us) would build BML2 through to Brighton without an equal connection into Lewes. It’s important that Eastbourne and Seaford services can access the Uckfield line.

 

So why is BML2 so important?
It’s all about volume and additional capacity. It’s simply impossible to provide the necessary vast increase in the volume of trains and passengers between the Sussex Coast and London without BML2. Network Rail calculated that a reopened, double-track line south of Uckfield could support eight trains per hour each way (about one every 7-8 minutes in both directions). If you share these between Brighton and Lewes/Eastbourne etc, you can see how the volume is more than they actually require.

 

Doesn’t BML2 make it all too costly?
Absolutely not. For decades we have accepted the incremental approach – start small and build up gradually – beginning with the cheapest option, a basic single-line with diesel trains to avoid electrification costs. But this has failed every time without exception – as witnessed by the many studies and resulting weak business cases. BML2 is business-based and focuses on demand and solving the rail industry’s problems on the adjacent BML and elsewhere. It has been accepted that the 2008 Network Rail study showed beyond doubt that there was no economic case for a low-cost local railway. Only a main line project can provide the capacity and volume which a commuter-based economy needs. Its business case would be infinitely stronger. Unlike those who still argue for a ‘cheap’ scheme, we believe railways are extremely important and worth high capital investment.

 

How would the train service work?
People at Uckfield, Crowborough, Oxted, and all stations north thereof, as well as Tunbridge Wells, would have direct services to Falmer and Brighton. People wanting Lewes would board the direct services going to Eastbourne, or possibly Seaford. Heading north, Brighton people who want Lewes will board any of the many trains which currently go there, but if they want Uckfield line destinations and beyond then why would they want to go into Lewes? The new Ashcombe tunnel under the South Downs west of Lewes allows this to happen.

 

Isn’t a tunnel difficult and expensive to construct?
Not at all. New tunnelling methods have revolutionized construction – look at the huge machines building 42km / 26 miles of Crossrail tunnels under London. The 1½ mile (2.4km) Ashcombe tunnel would go through chalk – ideal tunnelling material (in geological terms this comprises the Seaford beds) It has been estimated that the entire tunnel and associated connections could be done for less than the cost of 2 miles of East Sussex County Council’s Hastings–Bexhill link road (£120m).

 

Wouldn’t it be controversial?
There’s no sound reason why. The tunnel would run only under downland and farmland. Both the railway and the trains it will carry would be entirely concealed beneath the undulating South Downs, whilst BML2 would only be visible at the northern end of the National Park for a very short distance.

 

At the tunnel’s southern portal it crosses almost immediately over the busy A27 dual carriageway and trains would not be heard above the constant roar of road traffic. Environmentally the railway is infinitely preferable as it would not carve through Sussex downland creating a vast cutting – as happened with the nearby A27 Lewes bypass.

 

 

 

 

BML2 London Phase 2017

Is BML2 going to avoid East Croydon?


East Croydon has been described as a ‘bottleneck’ and a ‘major barrier to growth’ by Network Rail. That is why the project originally proposed routing some services to London via a reopened railway between Selsdon and Elmers End.

 

Instead, the international investors backing BML2 are prepared to invest millions in building a far better railway for London and the South East. This will be a completely new tunnelled line between Croydon and Stratford for direct fast services.

 

The tunnel is proposed to commence south of Croydon with a new subsurface station serving East Croydon. From here the next stop will be Lewisham. Here, BML2 will be able to link up with North Kent services, the forthcoming extension of the Bakerloo tube, as well as links to the Tonbridge main line. The next stop will be Canary Wharf for Crossrail services east and west, as well as the Jubilee line. After this comes Stratford, for Crossrail services and access to HS1. Further enhancements and proposals are currently being developed.

 

Will there still be trains into central London?
Of course, we do not propose taking any services away, but increasing the number of trains into London through making new travel opportunities available.

 

Why Canary Wharf?
Once Thameslink has been completed there will be no more train paths available into London Bridge. Network Rail will attempt operating 24 trains per hour through Blackfriars and Farringdon, that’s one every 150 seconds, but this depends on precision timing with no delays having a knock-on effect. Serious doubts as to whether this can be achieved, even with new digital signalling systems, have been expressed.

 

Some truly immense benefits come with a new railway across the eastern Thames connecting Croydon and Lewisham with Canary Wharf and Stratford. Terminating services in London take up space and capacity so it’s better to go through the capital – which was the basis for developing Thameslink over thirty years ago.

 

Canary Wharf is already a key destination for commuters and with Crossrail will become even more significant. Many thousands of people could be spared the wasted time, frustration, cost and so on of needlessly travelling right into London and back out again to Canary Wharf. The cost/benefit ratio would be impressive.

 

What is ‘Stanwick’?
A key benefit of BML2’s London Phase is physically joining London’s Stansted and Gatwick airports with one continuous railway which could operate a dedicated shuttle service.

 

This could operate as Gatwick – Canary Wharf – Stratford – Stansted. There would still be airport services into central London as now, but BML2’s additional services would boost the capital’s international connections in a huge way.