I welcome the response from Brian Hart (letters, January9) who has acknowledged that he is the main planner of what has been christened “BML2”.
Indeed we can tell by the tenor of his comments just why it is “Brighton Main Line 2” as opposed to “Sussex Coast Link 3” which is effectively what restoring the Uckfield-Lewes rail link would represent.
The benefits to Eastbourne and Bexhill from a restored link affording direct access towards London are it seems negligible to Mr Hart, as is the prospect of Worthing and Littlehampton trains to London avoiding having to use the existing main line by a simple east to north chord near Ford. Mr Hart says simply it will take longer for Brighton travellers to use the chord to access London, but that is not the point. The point is that trains using the Arun Valley line as far as Three Bridges would free up the congested two-track section south of that station.
The reconstruction of the line between Haywards Heath and Horsted Keynes, again a relatively cheap alternative to the BML2 costs for a viaduct over the A27 and tunnel through the South Downs National Park (assuming in planning terms the latter is even achievable) would avoid the key bottleneck on the main line of the Balcombe Tunnel and Viaduct. Thirty years ago the Bluebell Railway organisation, who would have to approve commercial use, could not countenance haulage other than by steam locomotives over their tracks, now they have regular diesel haulage and modern signalling at the approaches to East Grinstead. Electrification of the rebuilt link through Ardingly has even been seriously proposed., so in the future modern rolling stock could well be able to use this alternative route.
Mr Hart in his letter makes it quite clear that the “spark” for BML2 is that trains along a restored Uckfield-Lewes link will not face towards Brighton. Might I suggest that in the event that passengers to and from Brighton have to use Lewes to access London, they should be able to cope with a walk of a few strides from one train to another? That after all is what generations of travellers from Newhaven and Seaford have had to put up with in order to access London-bound trains.
It seems to me that BML2 is designed with its East London connections to seek to provide more of a link to the Falmer complex with its planned hotel and other facilities than to Brighton itself a station incidentally in need of expansion with the impact of the shuttle trains to the stadium. How that can justify the huge disruption of the “Stanwick” portion of the BML2 scheme with its “Croydon Gateway” version of Ebbsfleet, but without the necessary transport infrastructure and in a built-up residential area, is sadly beyond my comprehension.