Another Brighton mainline disaster

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It wasn’t the end of world as the Mayan’s predicted last week, but as many of us experienced, the rail network between Sussex, London and beyond, came to another apocalyptic standstill, this time attributed to a signal fire at Preston Park on the Brighton Main Line (BML).

While many of us were very frustrated by the long delays, cancellations and general chaos on the network, we again should be questioning the Department of Transport (DfT) and local MPs why we should keep living with a rail network in the South East that is unsustainable and at ‘tipping point’.

The existing Brighton Main Line has plenty of potential areas of critical failure (tunnels, signalling, landslips etc), but its main and fundamental failure is that the whole of Sussex relies heavily on BML and that there is no alternative route within the rail network.

But we all know this as many people, including myself, have been writing and campaigning about investing in the link between Lewes and Uckfield for longer then we can remember.

Why hasn’t anything been done about it?

The standard DfT response of a ‘weak business case’ is slowly wearing very thin as situations of lost business, that we are all experiencing on a far greater frequency, are not taken into account.

And as the network slowly reaches full capacity (even after overdue longer trains), catastrophic delays will become commonplace within a decade as is well documented within the rail industry.

I couldn’t even start to quantify how much business was lost last week, but I’m sure there were plenty of people that missed meetings, missed job interviews, missed lessons, missed other connecting travel arrangements, or missed a family day out – all missed opportunities that probably inconvenienced people and businesses financially at a challenging time, when all we want is public transport infrastructure to work effectively as a bare minimum.

Given the continued over inflationary increases to rail travel I think it’s about time we deserved better from Network Rail, Southern Rail and First Capital Connect and call upon them and local authorities, such as East Sussex County Council, to champion and even invest in rail travel in the region to promote greater accessibility, wellbeing and prosperity in our region.

Matt Kent

Prospective East Sussex County Council Candidate Ringmer and Lewes Bridge Division