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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baroness Kramer joins latest Lib Dem attack on Brighton Main Line 2

Croham Bridge

 

The closed railway through Croham in the Borough of Croydon will remain disused if the Lib Dems have their way.

This electrified London line was closed in 1984 but, as part of BML2, would form part of new rail connections

into the capital and into East Anglia from the South Coast.

 


 

Norman Baker’s replacement at the Department for Transport, Baroness Susan Kramer has involved herself in the Liberal Democrat campaign against the Brighton Main Line 2 Project.

 

In their latest attack aimed at BML2, on 10 April she took part in a photo opportunity at Westminster arranged by the Croydon Liberal Democrats where she took possession of petition slips garnered from local residents in the Croham area of the London Borough.

 

Baroness Kramer and John JefkinsIn a rather bland statement given to Lib Dem party activist John Jefkins she said: “Lib Dems in government are investing £38 billion in rail in the next five years, including upgrades to the existing Brighton mainline – without damaging Tramlink.”

 

But everyone who has properly studied and understood BML2 will know that, far from being damaged, the BML2 Project actively proposes improving and extending Tramlink. We don’t know what the Croydon Lib Dems have been telling residents, but the purpose they claim was to: “hand over your petition slips opposing any new ‘BML2’ rail line through Croham that would rip up Tramlink from Lloyd Park to Elmers End.”

 

Criticising BML2’s recently-published London & South Coast Appraisal (downloadable, see left column), Mr Jefkins said: “Tramlink is not the ‘underused’ rail line quoted by BML2 supporters in their latest study”. Our appraisal doesn’t say that, because we know how busy, successful and valued Tramlink is to South London.

 

With time now running out for this coalition government, the Lib Dems are already in election mode. In a recent interview with the Croydon Advertiser Mr Jefkins listed his primary concerns: “We have been listening to local views and a lot of people are concerned about parking, litter, overgrown pavements, council spending, waste, all these things matter on the doorstep. We also want to raise awareness of the Brighton Mainline 2 project.”

 

In the Advertiser he said: “No one knows this is on the cards” after telling its readers: “It’s bonkers, basically. It has no proper business case. I’m dubbing it a line to nowhere. They may as well build it out to sea because it misses Gatwick, East Croydon and central London.”

 

In fact it doesn’t miss any of these places, but brings much-needed flexibility and new destinations to the South’s rail network. Nevertheless, the Lib Dems quite clearly view the capital’s global financial centre at Canary Wharf, Stratford International, (and forthcoming Crossrail interchanges there), Stansted Airport, Cambridge, etc, as “nowhere”.

 

What’s more, all these “nowhere” places, such as Canary Wharf, would be directly connected to Gatwick Airport by the reopened line through Croham with a link across to the Brighton Main Line to avoid the insuperable East Croydon bottleneck.

 

Despite this, the Lib Dems boast they are offering “joined-up thinking on appropriate solutions to transport issues”. So what do they propose? Well, they suggest “support for extra platforms at East Croydon” and in typically vague terms “other major improvements planned by Network Rail.”

 

At the very least we would expect Baroness Kramer to be far better informed, especially as her own departmental officials have already explicitly warned: “There is no further scope within the railway network’s existing footprint”.

 

Similarly, Network Rail has explained the impossibilities of further expansion at East Croydon station, let alone the railway and its busy junctions through here. In a recent interview in the London Evening Standard, Tim Robinson, Network Rail Director of Development for Sussex, said: “We are looking at the potential benefits of BML2. A key part is how we increase capacity at East Croydon, which is essential to accommodate the additional services.”

 

In its London & South East Route Strategy Network Rail explains: ‘On Sussex routes some additional train paths have been found, but the East Croydon area represents a major barrier to further growth.’ It also says what they are looking for is ‘a new route that does not involve the congested East Croydon corridor’ – going on to suggest: ‘a scheme that removed Fast Line services from the existing Brighton Main Line somewhere in the Croydon area would be the ultimate capacity generator’.

 

That is precisely what is required. So it’s regrettable that the Lib Dem’s Transport Minister, who has been in the job barely six months, is evidently putting her party’s politics before the serious and fundamental problems afflicting the South’s railway network.

 

Baroness Kramer’s predecessor, Lewes Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, who was controversially shifted into the Home Office last October, made good use of his three and a half year term at the Department of Transport by campaigning against Brighton Main Line 2. Even shortly before he left the DfT, he visited Croydon to express his opposition towards BML2 and specifically “rejected” the scheme’s proposal to allow fast Brighton Line trains and Gatwick Expresses to avoid East Croydon to reach London.
 
You might think re-opening disused railways, installing short strategic links and exploiting existing assets to allow the whole system to operate far more efficiently in a cost-effective way would be passionately supported by any so-called ‘environmentally-conscious’ political party.

 

But the Lib Dems have contradictory approaches when it comes to rail – as Norman Baker proved with his own words. He is an ardent supporter of HS2, saying: “High speed rail will be good for the environment and the economy. HS2 will create hundreds of thousands of jobs; be a major boost to our economy and help us shift to the clean, green economy of the future.”

 

Yet in Sussex he describes BML2 as “grandiose” and didn’t think it “has a hope of happening”.

 

In regard to HS2 he said: “We have listened to communities along the line of the HS2 and have made important changes that will reduce the impact of the scheme. These include a new tunnel through West London and a new tunnel at Bromford, near Birmingham.”

 

However, in his fight against BML2 running through a corner of his constituency he told BBC Sussex: “I’m getting complaints from Lewes about tunnelling under people’s houses. That’s not going to happen in a million years. It would be very, very expensive, it would also be very controversial – and the last thing we want is a controversial line.”

 

The reopening of many long-closed lines throughout London has been more successful than anyone ever imagined. It is time that policy was extended into the southern counties bordering the capital where not a mile of closed railway has been restored to the national network. This is even more urgent as the system faces a daily struggle to keep up with the overload of increasing traffic.

 

Those who actively seek to deny millions of people in London and the South East a superbly upgraded and expanded network capable of daily transporting many more passengers really don’t deserve to be entrusted with such power.