Thank you for my letters published last week. However the latest pronouncement from Brian Hart has raised even more concerns. What exactly his his role in the “Wealden Line Campaign” as “Director”, and BML2?
I have been campaigning in Seaford for better transport links to and within the town for over 20 years but I have never treated it as a “job” (Mr Hart’s words) nor have I been remunerated for it. I think it’s time Mr Hart came clean with who the financiers are behind all these websites, presentations and submissions he has been making since “BML2” became his obsession.
Frankly if after all these years he cannot decide if it is a “High-Speed Line” or how its chosen power supply will fit into the existing third-rail system, or where the prime station “Croydon Gateway” will be and how it will integrate into the existing infrastructure (or not in the case of Croydon Tramlink and the outer London suburban rail network in North Kent) then perhaps he should stop writing to this paper and criticising Norman Baker for displaying an extremely sceptical attitude to his schemes. As Mr Hart should know a “yellow” signal on the railway system signifies “Approach With Caution”.
Since his last letter, more searching by me on the BML2 website has revealed that in 2012 Mr Hart convinced the Editor of a prominent railway magazine “Rail” to promote the concept of BML2. Tory Transport Minister Theresa Villiers and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson were urged to get behind the project. Mr Johnson for one has refused, preferring instead to support better transport links within the capital via the Underground. The latest (February 2015) issue of “Rail” has a Special supplement specifically devoted to London rail improvement schemes. In all its 32 pages I could find not one reference to BML2 or Thameslink 2.
The BML2 website states that the existing Thameslink is over-burdened as it is the only North-South London link. It isn’t. Trains run daily from South Croydon, yards from where “Croydon Gateway” would sprawl, across the Thames to North-West London and out to Milton Keynes. East London will benefit from “Crossrail” which will open later this decade. BML2 and Thameslink 2 with its 5-mile Thames tunnel could not be even started, let alone opened, before the 2030’s if Mr Hart has not yet even commissioned his “well-paid quantity surveyors, architects and civil engineers”.
Brian Beck has pointed out the potential long-term blight on housing bordering the trackbed between Lewes and Uckfield. This will also extend to properties North of Uckfield as the noise and interference from installing overhead power supply will be greater than for 750v third rail. Mr Hart seeks to put the onus on his drive to convert lines to an overhead power supply on a Network Rail directive, yet his own desire to promote a High-speed link in the past has left him with no option but to pick 25kv AC, as the third-rail system delivery does not effectively work above 90 m.p.h.
Mr Hart boasts about pursuing this matter for forty years. As I have pointed out so far he has not achieved much so far except a load of paperwork and his websites. In 2004 whilst I was a Lewes District Councillor, on a fact-finding trip at Isfield I met a local land-owner who actually stated he would offer up the trackbed crossing his farm to a suitable body so that it could be protected for reinstatement of the line. Has Mr Hart ever think of organising such a body? That is how preservation projects like the Bluebell extension to East Grinstead were achieved in half the 40 years that Mr Hart has been fronting his “Wealden Line Campaign”.