A recent statement by Chancellor George Osborne has given rail campaigners renewed hope.
Brian Hart, head of the second Brighton Main Line project told the Express: “George Osborne has tweeted: ‘We’ll start a feasibility study into BML2 speeding up services to the South Coast and relieving congestion in the first 100 days.’”
The news follows pledges from the region’s three new MPs, Maria Caulfield (Lewes,) Nus Ghani (Wealden) and Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) to prioritise rail issues in the South East, including re-instating the link between the city, Uckfield, Lewes and the Coast. The MPs met rail minister Claire Perry MP to press the case for BML2.
Maria Caulfield said: “The need for a second London to Brighton line is one of the most pressing rail issues in the South East. It is clear to me that the second mainline would be hugely beneficial for local people who all too often have to put up with significant disruption on the rail services in our area. I made the case very strongly to the Minister and I am pleased that the Minister agreed to look into this issue and will be keeping it firmly in her mind during future discussions with the rail companies. I will continue to monitor this situation very closely.”
Huw Merriman who lives at Five Ashes also raised the issue of the Uckfield line saying: “Commuters in the north of my constituency use it and I am one of them. I am pleased that the Minister is on the side of commuters.”
Brian Hart went on: “The Government’s budget announced £100k for a new study on reopening the Uckfield line to the Sussex Coast. George Osborne is aware of the Sussex project, because before the election he said: ‘The prospective Conservative MP in Lewes, Maria Caulfield, is a strong advocate for a new BML2 line into London and we will look closely at its viability.’
“We have always been told the Croydon bottleneck has blocked guiding BML2 into London but I was encouraged by the outcome of a recent meeting attended by the Canary Wharf Group of influential businessmen.
“They said Crossrail is of no use to them. What they want is Thameslink Two - a new route into the City from the South. They appear to have the money, contacts and the influence to make things happen and push this to the top of the transport agenda.”
He has also met transport officers of both Croydon and Lewisham councils who are enthusiastic about this link.
Brian concluded: “There is unacceptable chaos along the Brighton line where no money has been spent for decades and problems at London Bridge have focused people’s minds on an alternative route.
“We are not talking just Uckfield to Lewes but a very much more extensive scheme with trains running swiftly and directly between London and Brighton and Hove. Politicians cannot ignore it any longer.”