New car park means rail track stays intact

IMG_5532 Old station site
IMG_5532 Old station site

The threat of an unpopular local road scheme breaching the trackbed of the only alternative to the overloaded Brighton Line has been quashed.

Following its public consultation, East Sussex County Council has withdrawn a plan to build a new road across the station site in the centre of Uckfield. A letter in July from the British Rail Board Residuary, confirmed that ESCC “has recently decided not to proceed”.

Instead, joint efforts are now underway to provide a large temporary car park containing 139 spaces in the former goods yard. It is hoped that work should begin in early spring, subject to approval from the Wealden District Council which is strongly backing the proposal.

The land, currently owned by the British Rail Board Residuary (a company owned by the Secretary of State for Transport) is due to be passed to London and Continental Railways (a company in the same ownership.) However, Network Rail has recently asked for ownership “for operational reasons and to safeguard future rail capacity needs” whereby efforts are now being made to persuade the Government and senior civil servants to hand over the land to Network Rail.

County and Wealden are firmly behind Network Rail’s proposals. MP Charles Hendry has told councils he will facilitate a meeting with the new Rail Minister Simon Burns so they can press their case.

Detailed plans for the car park have now been drawn up. Access will be via the original entrance to the station yard and in front of the pub, which is also saved from demolition. 

Revised plans showing a road bridging a reopened railway have been produced by ESCC which now appears to appreciate the importance of doing nothing to hinder reinstating the railway. In a consultation people made it clear restoration of train services to Brighton is of prime importance.