Right track for new rail link

MANY people near Lewes are extremely supportive of renewing a rail link between Lewes and Uckfield. I believe their objective is not specifically to stop at Uckfield but to go beyond. An alternative route to London is often argued.

Without arguing the pros and cons of such a link I ask how do people get from Uckfield to Oxted, East Croydon and London? Network Rail (NR) produced a study in July 2008. NR Item 2.4.3 states that the constraint on capacity North of Uckfield would remain.

NR Item 10.1.4 states that the current track configuration limits train service frequency between Hever and Uckfield to half hourly. In order to operate a more frequent service, a double track would need to be provided at all of the three sections of single line: viz near Cowden, near Eridge and near Buxted.

Brian Hart produced a document for Wealden Link entitled Capacity Solutions for Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London: It states that in 2001 electrification of the line between Hurst Green (near Oxted) and Uckfield was shelved and diesel stock renewed. The distance of the route from Uckfield to London is stated as 46 miles of which I believe c24 miles are not electrified. While these new diesel trains proved popular they need to be refuelled regularly, they need more maintenance than electrically powered trains and they are less efficient because of having to carry the weight of their own diesel with them. So currently they grunt and snort their way into London emitting their exhaust as they go entirely because roughly half the route is not electrified.

If Lewesians were to benefit by having an alternative route to London, logic dictates that the rail section Hurts Green to Uckfield would also need to be electrified and double tracked. The 60mph speed restriction currently applied not far south of Hurst Green would also need to be examined.

Logic dictates that if there are not enough funds to upgrade and renew the whole route from Hurst Green to Lewes then the section from Hurst Green to Uckfield needs to be completed first.

Conclusion: I do hope councillors, taxpayers and local Government officers will generate enough political steam to electrify and double track the Hurst Green to Uckfield section before the Lewes to Uckfield section. After that we can evaluate the Lewes to Uckfield section.

Alan Grindley,