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.










Sussex Mainline Lost in 1969 

The main line Sussex lost in 1969 – now a compelling case.
Photo courtesy John Wenham


Brighton and Hove Conservative Group Leader, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald has expressed his dismay and disappointment at the recent criticism from both the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties in East Sussex of the campaign to secure a second Brighton to London rail mainline.


As a strong supporter of BML2 for a number of years, Cllr Theobald has been very public with his view that it is a vital missing piece in the jigsaw of an efficient and integrated sustainable transport system in the south-east of England, bringing not only enormous economic benefits to Brighton & Hove and the wider Greater Brighton area, but also a quick and reliable alternative for when the existing Brighton mainline requires maintenance or encounters problems. Inconvenience that residents from Worthing to Eastbourne and long-suffering commuters are all too familiar with.


In the House of Lords on 29 February Baroness Randerson (Lib Dem) asked: “My Lords, there has been a vigorous campaign to reinstate the rail link between Uckfield and Lewes, which would provide better access to employment in Brighton from the Weald and an additional, badly-needed route between the Sussex coast and London. The coalition funded some studies into this, but the current Government has not given any firm commitment. Can the Minister tell us whether the Government has plans for action on this and does he accept that the regeneration is needed now, not some time in the future, as indicated, possibly 2030 and beyond?”


Lib Dem ESCC Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre, who opposes BML2 and supports reopening a railway line between Lewes and Uckfield only, said “People in Sussex are forced to live with one of the worst performing railway networks in the country”. She called upon Lewes MP Maria Caulfield “to be honest with commuters.”


Maria Caulfield responded swiftly: “Once again the Lib Dems have got it wrong in assuming I have taken little interest or action on the terrible rail service in the constituency. As far as I am concerned there was no baton to pass on due to the lack of action by Norman Baker”. She told the Sussex Express that the broader and extensive London & South Coast Study, ordered by the Chancellor George Osborne last year, and which he promised would include BML2, will be published this autumn. Furthermore, she was optimistic it would be favourable.


This prompted a frankly astonishing attack, from a Labour Councillor from Hastings speaking at an East Sussex County Council Cabinet meeting. Cllr Godfrey Daniels told members reinstating the Lewes–Uckfield line was “a piece of madness” and urged the council not to be diverted by “mythical plans”. He suggested electrifying and redoubling sections of the Hastings–Ashford line would be a worthier project.


Not unexpectedly, Cllr Daniels’ opposition found warm favour with the County Council’s Director of Communities, Economy and Transport, Rupert Clubb, who gladly reminded cabinet that the 2008 Study, steered by ESCC and which considered opening only Lewes to Uckfield, concluded a poor business case and therefore “did not offer value for money”.


It’s worth pointing out that Hastings–Ashford already enjoys modern, air-conditioned trains operating a fast hourly service. Compare this to the fast-growing Weald where replacement bus services have been in operation for over 47 years between Crowborough/Uckfield, Brighton/Lewes.


Brighton’s Cllr Theobald said “It is very sad that an East Sussex Lib Dem Councillor has taken to the press to criticise Lewes MP, Maria Caulfield, for so-called Government ‘inaction’ over BML2. This really is a bit rich coming from a colleague of ex-MP Norman Baker who did absolutely nothing as a Lib Dem in Government, when he was a Transport Minister, to champion BML2’s cause – in fact, quite the opposite. By stark contrast, as Maria has quite rightly pointed out, under this Conservative Government, George Osborne has provided £100,000 funding for a new feasibility study into BML2 which is due to report in the autumn.”


Re-opening Lewes–Uckfield is a central part of the much greater BML2 project launched in 2010, aimed at solving severe capacity problems. Norman Baker was given priority to spearhead BML2 just prior to his election to Government in May 2010, but instead peddled complete untruths about the project. He first claimed it “bypassed Lewes” and, when this didn’t work, he suggested it would “tunnel under the town with all the disruption that would cause”. His attempt to discredit his successor, who spoke in favour of BML2, eventually backfired on him, whilst Lewes Lib Dems were obliged to admit the claims were false.


With regard to Hastings–Ashford being electrified in preference, the Leader of the Brighton Conservative Group Cllr Theobald said such comments were “short-sighted” adding “this may well be a beneficial project for his [Cllr Daniels] constituents but it would do absolutely nothing to solve the chronic overcrowding and capacity issues between the Greater Brighton area and London”.


Brighton’s Cllr Theobald told the BML2 Project Group: “I remain hopeful that BML2 will get the green light from the Government in the near future. George Osborne has consistently demonstrated his commitment to serious transport infrastructure projects in recent years such as HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2. And in the end, I think that he will be convinced by the economic case for BML2 which in my view, is compelling and was the main reason why it was included in our recent Greater Brighton devolution bid to Government.”