Switching power source a waste of what’s already there

Brian Beck points out in his letter (January 30) that in the past Mr Hart’s cost estimates of the WLC reinstatement of the Uckfield to Lewes line alone were open to criticism.

His more recent assertions of a personal note are also incorrect; I have not been a member of the Liberal Democrat Party for some time and have never met John Jefkins who has written from Croydon pointing out the unrealistic nature of the BML2 “Croydon Gateway” station.

Also I am a resident of Seaford, not Lewes or Ringmer.

To ensure that Eastbourne and Seaford have access to the Uckfield line under the BML2 proposals Mr Hart has promised a chord line on to his overhead electric Lewes bypass. But Mr Hart must surely know that electric trains (at least those presently in service) cannot switch power source on the move. As Brian Beck states, a “changeover point” is required; that would have to be Lewes station itself. Lewes is built on very tight curves into a narrow tunnel to the north. The tunnel itself is partly on a curve.

This is not a problem for the present 750v dc power supply in which the third rail merely parallels the other two, but in overhead supply it is much more difficult, as the catenary wire has to be kept straight between poles. The tighter the curve, the closer together the poles have to be. The clearances in the Lewes tunnel are tight enough already without the necessity to install lengths of wire between posts at the trackside. The tunnel would have to be rebored for greater clearance in my view.

If that is the case then residents of Lewes will certainly experience noise, vibration etc from tunnel works even if – as Brian Beck again points out – the avoiding line has been built to bypass the town at extra cost. The catenary would also have to extend through the station and probably past the existing signal-box to afford a run-round capability. Indeed on the BML2 website, Mr Hart promises the eventual advance of overhead power to Eastbourne and Seaford. Yet more millions spent purely to alter what is already there.

Last Friday (January 30) I tried around 3pm to visit Lewes by train from Seaford. I was told that I would have to go by bus as a train had failed at London Road outside Brighton; this is a stretch of track Mr Hart sees as a dual-voltage section. How exasperating it would be after all the years of adapting the line to Brighton through tunnels and over bridges, if local services were to be brought to a halt in future purely because one of Mr Hart’s BML2 wonder trains broke down through catenary failure? No system is faultless...

Bob Brown