Sussex Express readers will recall that some weeks ago I challenged the contention made by Brian Hart, the long-time advocate of the Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) scheme that this was wholeheartedly endorsed by MPs along the path and that past opposition from former Transport Minister Norman Baker and other Liberal Democrat politicians was “misguided”.
As those following the BML2 saga will know, a report commissioned by the Government in 2015 and prepared a year ago has now been released to the public.
It has reached the conclusion that on present predictions of traffic growth there is no justification to lay aside public funding for the BML2 scheme, which is now estimated to cost £20 billion rather than the £6 billion estimated by the BML2 promoters back in December.
It is instructive, given the publicity given to the scheme concerning the support of local MP’s in Lewes, Brighton and Wealden, that the Conservative MP for Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, himself a Government Minister, has issued this statement to his constituents:
“...The study also examines the case for re-instating formerly closed rail lines (such as the line between Lewes and Uckfield, closed in 1969) and building new links (including the ‘BML2’ concept, which would see a largely new line between the Sussex Coast and central London.
“This proposal would be highly detrimental to Croydon. The line would run up the tram track from near Lloyd Park to Addiscombe tram stop (which would either involve scrapping sections of the tram system or widening of the route via the purchase of people’s homes) and then a railway bridge over Lower Addiscombe Road.
“I am therefore delighted that the study concludes there is no case for the Government to take forward this scheme...”
This gives the lie to the repeated denials from Brian Hart in these columns in the past, that any rehousing would be required in building BML2, or that there would be detrimental effects to the quality of life for residents alongside the line in South London.
Whatever Hart has claimed, the present website for the “BML2 Project” now indicates that the backers have switched to an alternative route using tunnels from South Croydon northwards and using the present East Croydon site, rather than a “Gateway station”.
Is it possible to fund such a line privately?
As I have pointed out, its construction would still, despite the amendment to the London Phase of the Project, cause immense disruption to current services in the Brighton area.
It’s unfortunate, too, that the Government report has also dismissed a cheap option for improvement of services in Sussex by stating that there is no financial case for the “Arun Chord”, which would enable direct services again between Brighton and Horsham.
Only a week or so ago, trains to and from London via Horsham were scheduled over the weekend to have to detour into Littlehampton whilst the main line was closed for engineering.
The report admits that paths for a regular Brighton-Horsham service could be created, using such a chord.
Cavell Avenue, Peacehaven