Latest 2018 BML2 Project Publication

Design2158 What BML2 will do for

Kent and Tunbridge wells

The 14pp report can be downloaded for viewing and printing by clicking on the image. Please circulate to friends and colleagues and if appropriate, to local Tunbridge Wells and Kent councillors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.