COUNTY NEWS: Autumn Statement a '˜spectacular failure' for Sussex rail users

Sussex's rail users have been '˜failed' by the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, according to Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Caroline LucasCaroline Lucas
Caroline Lucas

Commuters have faced huge disruption on Southern services throughout 2016 due to both staff shortages during an industrial dispute between the RMT union and Govia Thameslink Railway, and rail infrastructure issues.

A second Brighton Mainline, also known as BML2 running between the city and London through Uckfield, has been promoted as a way of increasing rail capacity in the South East.

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Earlier this month, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “I’m aware we have a report that’s sat on the desk for much too long, and I intend to make sure it does not sit on the desk for very much longer.”

This raised expectations that there would be an announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement, but campaigners’ hopes were dashed today.

Afterwards, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “The Chancellor’s decision not to invest in the Brighton Mainline, and to offer no further news on BML2, is a spectacular failure. Passengers are crying out for the Government to step in and ease their misery – yet Philip Hammond offers nothing to fix the failures on our railways.”

But Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, has maintained her expectation that a decision on a second Brighton Main Line will come forward shortly as Mr Hammond announced the Treasury had released £1.3bn for roads and other transport projects to the Department for Transport.

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Specific spending decisions would now be made by Mr Grayling.

Ms Caulfield said: “During Transport Questions last week, the Transport Secretary confirmed to me that he would be looking to make a decision on a second Brighton Main Line shortly.

“I very much welcome the Chancellor’s decision to invest in road and rail infrastructure, and will continue to put forward to the Transport Secretary the very real benefits that can be realised if he is to give the green light to a second Brighton Main Line.”

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