Campaign for a new railway line is gathering pace

Uckfield station. Longer trains wanted SUS-140716-123251001
Uckfield station. Longer trains wanted SUS-140716-123251001

The proposal to open a new main line from the South Coast to London is gathering pace, campaigners say.

Described as a ‘missing link,’ the Uckfield to Lewes line, closed in 1969, could form part of an ambitious scheme to relieve pressure on the main Brighton to London railway.

BML2 extends the original line to the coast and into the City. It’s an ambitious plan developed with the aim of linking the coast to Canary Wharf, Stratford International and Crossrail benefiting Gatwick and Stansted airports. Originally the aim was simply to re-open the Uckfield-Lewes stretch, until it was realised the potential existed to provide a new route to the heart of the financial district.

Having promoted the scheme for years, author Brian Hart now says three developments have propelled BML2 forward. Firstly, the Conservative’s intellectual Bow Group has published Reviving Britain’s Railways calling on Government to reverse 1960s rail closures and cites building Brighton Main Line 2.

Secondly, George Osborne appointed Lord Adonis to head the Government’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). Two years ago Adonis proclaimed it was ‘stark staring obvious that the second mainline to London is needed’ adding ‘the loss of Brighton’s second main line via Uckfield and the direct London services it provided was a massive error of the 1960s. It needs to be reversed. Brighton Main Line 2, by reconnecting Brighton with London as one seamless journey, has the potential to do this.’

Thirdly, the Government appointed WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff to ‘evaluate the strategic case for investment in existing and new rail capacity along this corridor.’

Last week the BML2 Project Group gave a 90-minute presentation to consultants showing how the Government’s aspiration for ‘entirely new or largely new lines between the South Coast and London, including concepts such as BML2’ could be delivered.

Phases for Sussex, Kent and London comprise BML2, expanding the national rail network for more train services in the South East. Gatwick and Stansted airports gain direct, faster and increased connections through central London and Crossrail.

Brian Hart says BML2 is in the unique position of being able to solve many serious problems facing the most over-crowded rail routes.

He said: “We have a rail network struggling to manage demand; public clamour for more train services and better journeys; a private sector keen to invest in infrastructure.

“There’s never been a better time to start building BML2.”

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