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Latest 2017 BML2 Project Publication

BML2 response to Gibb Report BML2 response to 2017 Gibb report

Our 10pp response to the Gibb Report is now available to download for viewing or printing.

Click on image to start the download.

It is approx 2.5mb in landscape pdf format.









Important BML2 Information, Facts, Figures and News Reports


BML2 response to Gibb Report

BML2 response to Gibb Report


The publication this summer of the Gibb Report necessitates a response to those matters which could directly affect the BML2 Project. The author of the report, Chris Gibb, aims to provide: 'Changes to improve the performance of the Southern network and train services, and restore passenger confidence'.


His report is dominated to a large extent by the continuing dispute over Driver-only operation (DOO). It is not for us to take sides or comment upon the current industrial disagreement. We are, however, interested in what Gibb has to say about the Uckfield line, hence this document outlining our views.


Our 10-page report is in pdf format and is best read on a Desktop or Laptop computer, as it has been prepared in landscape format, or alternatively, download and print out on a Colour laser or inkjet printer.





Government urges private investors to press on with BML2

Considerable progress has been made over the summer months by the consultants appointed to investigate the engineering challenges presented by the BML2 project and provide suitable outline designs. Much of their work has been highly professional as well as thorough and extensive, whilst over the past few weeks a number of further strategic enhancements have been put forward for inclusion. When the pre-feasibility study is complete and available for publication then we shall of course comment further.


Shortly before the Parliamentary recess, we had the publication (in late-June) of the Gibb Report, ordered by the Secretary of State and the DfT in search of solutions to improving the Southern network and sorting out many of its fundamental problems. The report deals extensively with the long-running industrial dispute over Driver Only Operation, but because a sizeable portion (13 pages) is concerned with the future of the Uckfield line we were interested to see what is recommended.


Gibb strongly favours early-electrification of the severely-restricted Uckfield branch, which was partially-singled by British Rail in 1990 in an attempt to save on track maintenance costs. Electrification would be AC overhead power supply as opposed to Southern England’s widespread DC third rail system. Without redoubling the route – which Gibb opposes – any increase in services will be impossible, whereby a maximum half-hourly peak service will remain in force, with only an hourly train at other times.


We were also surprised to see that to fund his electrification scheme Gibb recommends a 60% increase in annual season tickets on the route. However, in a very long debate in the House of Commons on 4 July, Wealden MP Nus Ghani declared: ‘I support Chris Gibb’s recommendation for electrification of the line and a depot in Crowborough’ whilst Lewes MP Maria Caulfield again called on the Government to back BML2.


Transport Minister Paul Maynard responded by telling MPs: ‘My hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) mentioned the Uckfield electrification. We are well aware of that project, and we are looking at it closely to ensure that we have the best possible business case. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewes referred to BML2, and I know that the Secretary of State has met with the group and is urging it to carry on its work.’


We understand the DfT has since broadly accepted Gibb’s recommendations, although it is difficult to see how they could fund electrification, having just contentiously cancelled three major UK schemes.


The railways in the South East are in a profound crisis and in urgent need of major improvements with new lines and links to supply the necessary additional capacity throughout the coming decades. Let us hope the Government gives its full backing to the private consortium’s study later this autumn.



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.