Mr Brown’s letter (May 26) stated his surprise that a new train line across Sussex was included in our manifesto as it was a private affair. He could not be more wrong.
Mr Brown has clearly not read the Labour party manifesto and also clearly doesn’t understand the proposal of my party in our commitment to re-opening the Wealden line for the benefit of the whole of Sussex. He also fails to recognise the fact that we are the only party pledging to bring the railways into the control of the travelling public and staff, and not big companies or a single ministry; a true people’s railway. This public railways would not cost the exchequer, because as contracts come up they would be returned into a public trust holding company (as was done with East Coast which then managed to return a profit to the people).
In our case, the awful management of Southern by GTR, which is in my view criminal, would allow us to immediately strip this ramshackle company of all their franchises without compensation as they have breached running targets and caused enough misery to the travelling public in Sussex.
Let me make clear that the Labour Party and myself have not supported (or indeed rejected) BML2, which is one of many proposals to reopen the Wealden line. Our costings are based on the more modest re-opening of a loop at Hamsey, re-tracking the Lewes-Uckfield line and putting a new loop in at Lewes (around the back of the Convent fields along the by-pass) allowing trains to go direct from Brighton to London.
This, along with electrifying the Uckfield line would not create any extra pressure in East Croydon (two paths already are reserved per hour towards Uckfield) and allow two extra trains per hour to run into Brighton and connect Sussex. This would cost in the first phase £2 to £2.5billion but in later stages of double tracking would extend to Tunbridge Wells and then on into London creating new paths into London and helping relieve the East Croydon bottleneck. In time, a new Thameslink 2 will be needed through London connecting up to East Croydon but this is not something that we are proposing at this stage.
None of this is expected to be a private initiative, but part of general investment funding, which will be sourced from a number of funds including the full and continued implementation of a Community Infrastructure Levy on new builds and also general taxation.
I hope that Mr Brown and others will join me and the Labour Party in realising that we need development in this country but we have a choice – let our broken economic model continue, with developers running roughshod over local communities, or welcome new homes but insist that new infrastructure come along with it. Simple solutions with a can-do attitude, not grandiose plans, would do this country a much better service. I believe we can build a better Britain, and that is what a Labour Government will deliver.
Candidate for MP of Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven Labour Party