This month has seen us move a step closer to securing a second rail mainline for Sussex after a crucial meeting between the Transport Secretary and a consortium looking to open up the Lewes to Uckfield line and use it to create a second rail main line that would not only give more capacity to towns like Lewes but would put Seaford and Newhaven on the mainline instead of currently being the poor relations on a small branch line.
The consortium, made up of developers and investors, is looking to plough billions of pounds in the South East to provide a new rail link into the capital, which would ease pressure on the current mainline and provide an alternative route when track related problems occur. I attended this meeting alongside other local MPs; Simon Kirby and Nus Ghani to offer our support to make this happen.
We all know how difficult the last eighteen months have been on our rail service with the industrial action but also the poor performance of the rail operator. The only route in and out of Sussex is currently on an old Victorian line known as the “Brighton main line”. Due to a lack of investment on this line for decades we now see a creaking rail line that is constantly failing causing around 50% of the current delays. Despite £20 million going in to upgrade this line we need more capacity to provide resilience for passengers. The proposed scheme will see 20km of new railway between Falmer, Lewes and Uckfield, 38km of restored rail line between Uckfield and Hever and 25KM of tunnelled railway linking the whole line to Canary Wharf and Stratford International. This will see an investment of over £6 billion in infrastructure in the South East.
The meeting allowed the group behind the new mainline, who not only want to fund it the scheme but also project manage it, to meet with the Department of Transport and share their vision. Work is now starting on a detailed work up of the proposals I am grateful to the Transport Secretary for taking the time to meet with us. This was an excellent opportunity to make sure we put our case across and show just how much BML2 is needed for the South East.
The Railways have been my top priority for many months and this is just another step to ensuring that my constituents have a rail service that works for them.Maria Caulfield