18 May 2010

A new main line for Brighton?

Proposals for a new main line from London to Brighton, the BML2 Project, have been put forward by Brian Hart, who has extensive knowledge and enormous enthusiasm of the national railways in the South East corner of the UK. He was also instrumental in starting the Wealden Line Campaign many years ago, in an endeavour to get the railway line rebuilt from Lewes to Uckfield.

It is claimed that BML2 is in the unique position of being capable of solving many of the serious problems facing the most over-crowded routes between London, Sussex, Surrey and Kent. It also offers other opportunities to enhance the network further and strengthen the capital’s position in Europe. The focus of growth in London is gravitating eastwards, whilst the city and its environs seem set to continue their key role in the financial, commercial and tourist sector.

An important benefit of BML2 would be to reconnect the swathe of people living in the Wealden/Mid Sussex/Kent areas directly by rail to the South Coast. With the new football stadium now under construction at Falmer for Brighton & Hove Albion, large numbers of football supporters will need to travel to the east of Brighton. The BML2, when built, would provide ideal public transport for those coming from the Oxted/Tunbridge Wells/Crowborough and Uckfield areas. It would also make life easier for students to get to the two Universities from these areas, and avoid possible late arrival, caused by being compelled to use buses that can often get delayed by heavy road traffic. And it ought to reduce, if marginally, the number of people driving into Brighton.

The route would leave Brighton on the east Coastway route, and then by-pass Lewes to the north in a tunnel, to join the currently-abandoned line to Uckfield. It would then run direct towards London via Edenbridge, Hurst Green and Sanderstead. From there, it would continue via Woodside, Elmers End and the mid-Kent line through Catford Bridge to Lewisham, and then to London Bridge.

The southern end of the scheme obviously works well. As the route approaches London, there are difficulties, as the promoters admit. Part of the route was taken for use by Croydon Tramlink, and there is already severe congestion between Lewisham and London Bridge. Nevertheless, the project is obviously worth further investigation.

Public investment, private gain
One of the difficulties is that it would create development pressure in the area it passes through. It would also increase land values in those areas, a value which would end up in private landowners' pockets rather than returning to taxpayers and investors who paid for the scheme.

You can read about the proposal in detail here.

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