Major boost for Uckfield rail line

Rail news.
Rail news.

Campaigners seeking the reinstatement of the Uckfield to Lewes rail link have received a major boost ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Beeching report, which axed it during the 1960s.

The magazine, New Civil Engineer, reports Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed to include the project in its city plan to go to government in April. The move is being welcomed by campaign group BML2.

Reinstatement of the Uckfield to Lewes line, which closed in 1969, has been the focus of the BML2 campaign to achieve a second main line connecting Brighton and London.

It was studied by Network Rail in 2008 but rejected by the Department of Transport on the grounds that the business case was too weak.

But that study did not include extending the line to Brighton – the outcome of a detailed research project which revealed routes that could be utilised extending into the middle of London.

The Uckfield to Lewes trackbed is still intact, cut across in one place by the Lewes by-pass.

But taking the line into Brighton would involve digging a tunnel under the South Downs.

Network Rail’s Sussex Route Strategic Business Plan reports a 40 per cent rise in passenger numbers on the London to Brighton line over the past decade and predicts that will increase by a further 30 per cent.

Campaign director Brian Hart said: “People from Network Rail have often said that the trouble with BML2 is that it doesn’t connect with Gatwick or Haywards Heath but a bypass of those bottlenecks is exactly what is needed.”