For the first time in 20 years I have not been involved in a general election, but still find the results startling.
Although I no longer live in the Lewes constituency, I do feel concerned about the stance of the re-elected MP, Maria Caulfield, regarding the so-called Brighton Main Line (BML)2 Project.
In a campaign leaflet I have seen, Ms Caulfield states: “We have now a consortium with the £6 billion to deliver the project and could potentially (sic) start in the next 18 months leading to the reopening of the Lewes to Uckfield Line to start the process.”
This would seem to suggest that the first aim will be to reconnect Lewes with Uckfield, but the BML2 concept as I understood it was to connect Brighton and Falmer directly to Uckfield, avoiding Lewes.
I have pointed out in these columns before that a new link would potentially need to be electrified by overhead catenary, not the third-rail which is presently across most of the old Southern Region. What exactly is this consortium proposing to accomplish in the next 18 months? From their website they talk about a “three-phased” plan; presumably – for the benefit of her constituents in the Lewes area – Ms Caulfield is referring to an early implementation of the “Sussex Phase” alone.
However the “brains” behind the whole BML2 concept, Brian Hart, who incidentally seems to be rather absent from these columns recently, has always said that BML2 cannot be justified economically unless the other phases, in particular the London link, are put into place. How is this scheme going to be financed over the many years of planning, consultation and construction? The line will cross a National Park and involve large disruption to the existing network, don’t forget.
The new neighbouring MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, also in his campaign literature spoke about the need for a second line from Brighton to London. However this seems in his eyes to be more to offer an alternative to the present service offered by Govia South Central.
I thought it was more a cornerstone of Labour’s policy to renationalise the railway system, rather than endorse further private investment in new lines. Could Mr Russell-Moyle explain, please?
Cavell Avenue, Peacehaven