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Osborne commits to full Brighton Main Line 2 study

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has given a government commitment to a full study into the Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) proposal. 

Since the study was announced in last March’s Budget statement, there had been fears locally that it would look only at re-opening the line from Lewes to Uckfield, especially given the opposition to BML2 voiced by Norman Baker (the former Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes), and the words in the Budget documentation that referred only to Lewes-Uckfield and not BML2. 

Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes, wrote to Osborne with these concerns on June 22.

In his reply dated July 16, Osborne states: “Effective transport links are vital for our economy to function properly. This means providing significant transport investment to places like the South Coast, where it is essential to have excellent connectivity between London and places like Lewes and Brighton.

“As you noted, I announced funding earlier this year towards a feasibility study for the re-opening of the Lewes-Uckfield line. However, I want to go further and take the opportunity to look at rail links in Sussex more generally, including the viability of a Brighton Main Line 2. 

  • For more on this story, see RAIL 781 on August 19 2015


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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 11/08/2015 23:00

    I think thats a good idea than to build the HS2 even though the North of England do need HS2 but this is what the Southeast wants so that the main line between London and Brighton doesnt get congested once the Brighton Main Line 2 is built and Thameslink would be using the new main line as well freight.

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    • keir - 21/08/2015 20:15

      Up here in the NW HS2 is very unpopular indeed, it does nothing other than saving 30 minutes

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  • Philip Walker - 14/08/2015 10:50

    BML2 would not be an alternative main London-Brighton route as it would avoid Gatwick Airport and possibly even central Croydon, and journey times would not match the current main line. Also Brighton trains on BML2 would be routed avoiding Lewes through an expensive new tunnel. I think the idea is to divert Eastbourne-London trains via the new route, but this would sever that town's and Lewes's link with Gatwick and Croydon and entail longer journeys. The reason for opening Uckfield-Lewes is to link towns like Uckfield and Crowborough to Brighton, and provide a diversionary route from the main line. In my experience, the main congestion problems on the current main line are on the double-track southern section, as fast trains are too often delayed by stoppers. So it's that southern section of the current main line that needs heavy investment - that would be money better spent than on an expensive tunnel avoiding Lewes.

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  • J Marsden - 14/08/2015 11:16

    Here we go again SouthEast gets anything it asks for but the North gets nothing and what was promised is now "paused" ( another word for cancelled)

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  • Philip Walker - 17/08/2015 15:25

    Further to my comment, if services were restored to Eridge-Tunbridge Wells, that would mean more towns would be linked to Brighton, further increasing the potential value of a Lewes-Uckfield reopening. Perhaps one of the London-Tunbridge Wells trains each hour could be extended to Brighton, and this with the current London Bridge service could give a half-hourly service south of Eridge. Further to J Marsden's comment, one could add the south west! A new faster line from Exeter to Plymouth that would bring much needed faster journey times on the south west's only main line and that would also provide a main line avoiding the Dawlish problem, cannot be contemplated it seems. But a new main line (with an expensive tunnel), duplicating an existing main line but missing the latter's main intermediate traffic centres, is being considered - presumably because it's in the SE.

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  • R Laker - 18/08/2015 12:51

    BML2 would be a multi-billion pound 'grand project' taking decades to bring to fruition - and that's assuming it's the right solution anyway. Meanwhile reinstating the missing link to reconnect the Uckfield line with Brighton and Newhaven/Seaford for some initial through services is a viable prospect for CP6 for which the imminent study must establish a business case, as well as being a vital building-block towards future expansion. Let's not make the best the enemy of the good.

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  • R Laker - 22/08/2015 12:21

    BML2 would be a 'grand projet' costing billions and taking decades to deliver - and that's if it can be justified as the most appropriate solution to the range of needs to be met and for maximising all the potential benefits [economic, social and environmental as well as transport] to be secured by such a mega-investment. Maybe it can, but the common essential feature in any longer-term scheme is re-instatement of the missing link between Lewes and Uckfield for through services from/to the Sussex coast and Brighton, as the vital first increment which allows for further expansion. The imminent DfT study must not fall into the trap of 'making the best the enemy of the good'. There is a golden opportunity here and now to develop a viable and affordable initial scheme for inclusion in Network Rail's Initial Industry Plan for CP6. Costing millions not billions, it could be in place for the successor to GTR to operate in only one, not several, decade's time. Local and regional stakeholders must step up, in partnership, to articulate to DfT and Treasury the various benefits even just the first step towards a second rail main line would bring to their communities.

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