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

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.