Hart tells WLC committee “Lewes–Uckfield is dead – long live Lewes–Uckfield as part of BML2”
Committee agrees to setting-up of BML2 Project Group under the wing of the Wealden Line Campaign. Launch of BML2 in April, receiving widespread coverage in national journals. Presentations follow – to local MPs, Southern managers, Network Rail, officers and representatives from Wealden, Lewes and East Sussex councils.
The new Rail Minister Theresa Villiers says BML2 faces challenges from New Cross into London Bridge and ideas need to be further developed.
DfT says their long-term solution for Uckfield line is to electrify.
Croydon Green Party brands BML2 “completely crazy” and says East Croydon should have more platforms and be expanded.
Norman Baker, now coalition transport minister, rejects BML2 claiming it “bypasses” Lewes and a connecting service to Brighton must be the way forward.
After viewing presentation at the AGM, WLC members vote overwhelmingly in support of adopting the aims of BML2.
Lord Bassam of Brighton backs BML2 saying the proposal for new direct services between London and Falmer/Brighton is “highly commendable”.
Transport writer and broadcaster Christian Wolmar suggests BML2 could offer “a bigger impact pound for pound than High Speed Two”.
Network Rail chief David Higgins says reason behind HS2 is about increasing capacity not speed.
Lord Bassam says in the dash for enormously high-speed lines, the Government can’t afford to ignore the pressing needs of commuters and those driving the economy who use the BML.
RAIL magazine publishes 8-page feature on BML2, its author saying “BML2 solves the BML conundrum in one relatively straightforward way”.
It is now available to download from this website. For copyright reasons, new photographs have been used in this on-line version and are copyright of the BML2 Project Group.
To download, click on the cover image.
BML2 Group publishes ‘A Strategy for Growth’ to answer highly negative conclusions of Network Rail’s London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy which points to “major barriers to growth” on Tonbridge and Brighton main lines and instead recommends introducing ‘Super-Peak’ fares between 08:00 – 09:00 to deter over-demand.
Government refuses request to safeguard Uckfield station site. Earl Attlee says even if Lewes-Uckfield reopened, the bottleneck at East Croydon would be encountered.
ESCC devises new ‘transport solutions’ for Uckfield town centre, one of which is a new road across the station site.
Lewes Town Council votes to support BML2, overturning an earlier decision to oppose it.
A mudslide at Croydon and problems in Balcombe tunnel close the BML for days. Along with other delays and breakdowns the misery for commuters continues.
Lord Bassam contributes a full-page article in Brighton’s Argus newspaper in support of BML2.
The “month from hell” blights BML as Balcombe tunnel is closed for three days, over-running engineering works and a massive power failure add to commuter woes. Lord Berkeley asks if Government will discuss with ESCC its opposition towards reopening Lewes link. Lord Attlee said there was “no economic case” for line and it was up to ESCC to determine the evidence, its policies and local priorities.
WLC publishes ‘Why the South needs Brighton Main Line 2’ a 4-page colour brochure briefly explaining the problems and solutions. This includes new proposals to build ‘London Phase’ of BML2 across eastern London from Lewisham to Canary Wharf and Stratford, creating not only a ‘Thameslink 2’ crossing, but more importantly ‘Stanwick’ – joining Gatwick and Stansted airports with one dedicated direct rail service.
New Civil Engineer and The Wharf both feature BML2 and its proposed ‘Stanwick’ link-up of Gatwick and Stansted airports through Stratford International and Canary Wharf.
ESCC exhibits plans, one of which is build a ‘southern relief road’ over Uckfield station site but studiously avoiding using the ‘g’ word. Using computer-aided software the WLC unmasks a phased new gyratory.
Consultants Arup show that Gatwick’s rail links to London are seriously compromising its position among global equivalents. Gatwick’s owners demand more capacity into central London.
A public survey by ESCC reveals that trains to Brighton are more important than Uckfield road scheme and a large majority vote for a car park on station site.
Network Rail says once East Croydon bottleneck sorted out then reopening Uckfield line “makes perfect sense”. ESCC officer tells WLC that building road across trackbed would be “political suicide”. Local council officers agree instead to support ‘transport hub’ which proposes moving station back to original location on reopened route with better road links and a bridge over the railway.
Unable or unwilling to confront BML problems, Network Rail tells RAIL in major article on BML2 that Brighton Line may not be their highest priority – even by 2030. In same issue, Transport Minister Baker (given a senior position on 2008 Study) now says it was a case of “putting rubbish in and getting rubbish out”. He also erroneously suggests BML2 tunnels under people’s houses and says Hart’s “grandiose scheme” has no hope of happening. Baker, who backs the £34bn HS2, attacked BML2 on BBC Radio Sussex, claiming it would be “very, very expensive” and “very controversial”.
Railway Paths Ltd, subsidiary of Sustrans, puts Grove spur (see item in 2001) linking Kent and Sussex rail network on the open market for potential housing development.
Following abolition of British Rail Board (Residuary) Network Rail asks for Uckfield station site to be transferred to them on a ‘cost-neutral’ basis as they are “best-placed” to protect rail route and can develop 130-space commuter car park.