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.









Brighton Main Line 2 may be included says Minister as politicians clash over project

Brighton 82720


More track and trains are needed between the South Coast and London


Higher rail fares, increasing congestion, cancelled and late trains, weary and dissatisfied commuters, whilst both Southern and Southeastern come bottom of the league among passengers. Rail bosses say they’re carrying twice the number of passengers in the SE than ten years ago but, as we’ve said many times, not a mile of track has been reopened in the South. Commuters say they are “sick and tired of being treated like this”“we are fed up and something has to change”.


Brighton’s Conservative MPs have expressed their dissatisfaction as Simon Kirby observed: “This area has suffered from years of a lack of investment”. A keen supporter of BML2 and aware that short-term proposals are no longer enough, he added: “The Brighton Line is at capacity and a long-term solution is needed. There is a strong argument for us getting a second line, not only to solve problems of capacity, but also robustness. If there is a problem at the moment it can impact the whole line whereas another line would help that”.  


Just before Parliament broke for its summer recess, Simon Kirby tabled a question, asking whether the Secretary of State for Transport has considered funding in Network Rail’s next spending review for Brighton Main Line 2. The minister responded: “The Department has not yet begun the process of formally considering options for funding during railway Control Period 6 (2019 to 2024). When this process formally commences in 2015, it will likely identify a range of potential options for investment, some of which may include elements of the wide ranging proposals, collectively known as Brighton Main Line 2.”


Brighton & Hove City Council has already given its backing to BML2 and a few days ago the Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald, contacted us to specifically reaffirm his endorsement.


Recently, at their request, Conservative candidates Nusrat Ghani and Maria Caulfield – who will be standing in Wealden and Lewes constituencies respectively – were given a presentation on BML2. Subsequently Maria Caulfield, who will be contesting Norman Baker’s seat, spoke on ITV Meridian News in support of the proposals.
This was followed by a longer feature on Meridian News, explaining how BML2 would reintroduce two main lines to the south; not only from Brighton to London, but also from Tunbridge Wells to London. In an interview at Uckfield station the emphasis was on the ever-worsening capacity crisis across the South East and the need for specific closed routes to be reopened, along with certain strategic new links to revolutionize the rail network. Substantial sums of money need to be invested in the region – but we need political champions who are prepared to argue that case within the DfT and the Government.


Soon, Network Rail is expected to present its draft study to the DfT on increasing route capacity between the Sussex Coast and London, in which they will consider BML2. Previous schemes of the past 45 years to reopen rail services between Lewes and Uckfield have been consistently rejected by the DfT, ministers and also the rail industry. As they have said, over and over again, this is because “Lewes would constrain through-running to Brighton” whilst the volume of additional trains required to make the scheme viable would not be possible.


The conclusive blow really occurred in 2008 with Network Rail’s study, which showed reopening a Lewes–Uckfield link just on its own as, even now, still being proposed by Norman Baker and the ‘RailFuture’ group, could only be for local use and of no benefit to Sussex’s central ‘spine’ – the Brighton main line. Full electrification, redoubling and direct running between London and Brighton would also be necessary – as proposed by BML2.


It was for this reason that BML2 was devised which, besides linking into Lewes and on to Eastbourne, includes the all-important South Downs tunnel directly into Brighton, thus enabling a massive increase in the number of services which could operate between the South Coast and London. In 2010, it was explained to Norman Baker how he could achieve his ambition of reopening Lewes–Uckfield as part of a much larger and more useful scheme, but he wouldn’t listen.


Meridian News interviewed the Lewes Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker, for his reaction to the Conservative support; however, yet again he expressed his opposition to BML2 and told viewers: “I’m all in favour of reopening railway lines; in fact I did some when I was Minister of Transport in the Department for Transport and I want to see extensions to the railway network. But we have to be practical as to what’s achievable. Lewes to Uckfield in my view is achievable, but BML2 practically – whether it’s desirable or not – is not achievable.”


His steadfast opposition continues to irritate all those who want to see the south’s overloaded rail system expanded – as is happening elsewhere in the UK. “Norman Baker is well-known for his enthusiastic endorsement of HS2, purely because it’s politically expedient for him to do so, yet he will not stand up and fight for the South and lobby for investment where it’s really needed – on our beleaguered and overcrowded network” – is just one comment we received from a commuter last week.


The tragedy is that during Norman Baker’s lengthy period as Transport Minister so much could have been achieved since 2010 had he only put his narrow personal ambition to one side and instead worked jointly with neighbouring MPs and councils who support BML2, enabling them to put their case to the DfT.


Sadly and inevitably, the real losers continue to be all those who have to rely every day on the South’s increasingly creaking rail network.