Transport Secretary to discuss 2nd Brighton mainline BML2 linking south coast to Canary Wharf
The Brighton Mainline 2 (BML2) consortium has long campaigned for a 2nd railway line between the south coast and London. The idea is for a have a line running from Brighton east of the current main line, going via Uckfield and Crowborough and Oxted, to Croydon, and then on to Canary Wharf and ultimately to Stansted. The campaign says tht the BML2 line would “link into Thameslink 2 between Stratford and Lewisham, providing a rail link between Gatwick and Stansted airports (“StanWick”) and opening up a rail corridor between East Anglia and Sussex, Surrey and Kent …” And “More services could be run between London and the South Coast, whilst Gatwick airport could have its rail connections speeded-up and increased by means of the Stanwick Express dedicated shuttle services operating between Gatwick and Stansted through Canary Wharf and Stratford International.” Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, has agreed to meet with the BML2 campaigners to discuss the plans, a second Brighton mainline. The group has recently revealed a group of heavyweight overseas investors had stated their intention to fund the scheme, and had a particular interest in linking the rail line from Brighton to Canary Wharf. The consortium is now prepared to undertake its design and construction and will put its case to the government.
Transport secretary to discuss second Brighton mainline
Friday 13 January 2017
(Brighton and Hove Independent)
Campaigners have welcomed the news that Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, has agreed to meet with them to discuss a second Brighton mainline.
The Brighton Mainline 2 (BML2) consortium has long campaigned for a second railway line via Uckfield to connect the capital to the seaside.
Last month, it was revealed a group of heavyweight overseas investors had stated their intention to fund the scheme, and had a particular interest in linking the rail line from Brighton to Canary Wharf.
Now, Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, said the transport secretary had agreed to meet with the campaigners behind the idea.
He said: “I am pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed to this meeting. I believe that this project could be a long-term solution to resolving some of the problems on the existing line.”
A spokesman for the BML2 campaigners said: “We’re delighted the Secretary of State has agreed to meet the BML2 consortium. Over the past year, international investors have looked at the Brighton Main Line 2 proposal in detail and have now agreed to fund it. The consortium of professionals is now prepared to undertake its design and construction and will now put its case to the government.
“Aside from the current industrial disputes, railways in London and the South East are struggling to meet demand. BML2 will deliver vast amounts of capacity so more trains can be operated. There will be new destinations with some closed routes in Sussex reopening. This is going to be a very exciting time and a huge boost for the Sussex economy.”
Cllr Geoffrey Theobald, long-time supporter of BML2, and leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “This is very encouraging news. I, along with Simon and Lewes MP Maria Caulfied, met up with members of the BML2 consortium before Christmas and were very impressed with the progress they are making. At a time when the current Brighton mainline is in a state of chaos I am sure that the transport secretary will be impressed by the potential benefits of their plans.”
What is BML2?
BML2 is a proposal to create a second Brighton Main Line to London. However, it’s actually a lot more than relieving pressure on one of the country’s most overcrowded rail routes for the benefit of Brighton commuters travelling into London or restoring a rail link between Uckfield and Lewes.
The BML2 Project can be broken down into three phases:-
- Sussex phase:-
- restoration of rail link between Uckfield and Lewes, providing a direct route from Eastbourne to London via Uckfield, releasing train paths and increasing capacity on the Brighton Main Line
- building of new rail link between Uckfield and Brighton via Falmer – home of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex stadium and Brighton and Sussex universities, making them accessible from the northern parts of East Sussex and South London
- Kent phase:-
- Re-instatement of Tunbridge Wells West and linking in to the core BML2 route, relieving pressure on the Tonbridge Main Line into London (also one of the most overcrowded rail routes in the country) and making Brighton and Eastbourne accessible
- London phase:-
- Re-opening Selsdon to Elmers End to rail travel to avoid the East Croydon bottleneck and provide direct link from Kent and Sussex to Canary Wharf and East London, relieving pressure on the London Underground
- Creation of Croydon Gateway station – a possible amalgamation of Purley Oaks, Sanderstead and South Croydon, providing an interchange between BML and BML2 and relieving pressure on East Croydon – the country’s second busiest rail interchange
- Linking into Thameslink 2 between Stratford and Lewisham, providing a rail link between Gatwick and Stansted airports (“StanWick”) and opening up a rail corridor between East Anglia and Sussex, Surrey and Kent, relieving more pressure on the London Underground and improving links between these counties.
CLICK HERE to see the BML2 Project Route Map
BML2 does not merely provide a quicker journey between two cities – commuters from many towns across the South East will directly benefit from increased destinations, including: Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Seaford, Uckfield and Crowborough. Relieving the pressure of overcrowding will also benefit Hassocks, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and Crawley. Nearby towns and villages will also benefit from increased business, particularly those involved in tourism.
Gatwick is the country’s second busiest airport which is at capacity. Providing a rail link to the underused Stansted airport would enable them to work together like a hub airport – a more viable proposal than “HeathWick” and reducing the need for a new airport in the South East or expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick whilst allowing increases in international visitors.
Additionally, with better cross-London connections, tourists will find it easier to explore a greater part of the country – not just Sussex and Kent, but also Surrey, East Anglia and beyond without the nightmare of carrying baggage on the London Underground.
Grayling urged to consider ‘A railway that works for everyone’
12 December 2016
http://www.bml2.co.uk/ The BML2 website
[BML2 is the rail plan to avoid gridlock on the Brighton and Tunbridge Wells Main Lines]
Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Sussex MP Simon Kirby (Brighton Kemptown) has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, requesting that he meets the Brighton Main Line 2 Project Group.
In the wake of serious commercial interest in BML2 now being shown by international investment companies, a briefing meeting was held on Friday 2 December to provide an overview of the latest proposals to Simon Kirby and Maria Caulfield MP (Lewes), as well as Cllr Geoffrey Theobald, Conservative Leader on Brighton & Hove City Council. All three are well-known locally for having championed BML2 from the outset.
It is encouraging that investors remain undeterred by the referendum result; indeed, it appears that they are keener than ever to roll up their sleeves, bring their expertise to these shores and get this formidable project off the ground as soon as possible.
A slide presentation outlining more ambitious plans within London was given by the BML2 Project Group – which has recently been registered as a limited company. All proposals strictly adhere to the three-phase approach of BML2, ensuring the Sussex and Kent phases remain fundamental. Both are crucial to guaranteeing the success of the far more ambitious London phase.
For those new to the project, the first two are principally reinstating the former double-track main line rail links into both Tunbridge Wells (West) and Lewes via Oxted. Additionally, BML2 includes constructing Ashcombe tunnel (1.5 miles / 2.4km) beneath the South Downs to provide fast, direct access into the City of Brighton and Hove via Falmer. Thus, the all-important second route to the Sussex Coast is achieved and delivers all the much-needed additional capacity which is required. Altogether, Eastbourne, Seaford, Newhaven, Lewes, Brighton, Bexhill, Hastings, etc, would equally gain an additional, direct fast main line to London and beyond. Consequently, in its entirety, this would see former Chancellor George Osborne’s aspiration of greater additional capacity between the Sussex Coast and the capital.
In recent months particular interest in BML2 has been shown within Canary Wharf. This is because subsequent enhancements to the original concept have substantially increased its potential. Precise details are expected to be disclosed in the coming weeks, but the plan would provide superior connections in the Stratford area and bring many benefits.
In his response, Simon Kirby issued a press release saying: “Following a meeting last week with the BML2 Project Group, I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling asking him to consider holding a meeting with them in early January. I believe that this project could be a long-term solution to resolving some of the problems on the existing line.”
Perhaps appropriately, BML2 has been described as a project to deliver ‘a railway that works for everyone’ – be they top executives, everyday hard-pressed commuters or off-peak travellers. The railway is a critical element to a successful thriving economy, especially in such an overcrowded part of the country where it remains the supreme mass-mover of people.
Equally supportive is Lewes MP Maria Caulfield who wrote an erudite and powerful article in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph. After commenting that Government intervention was long overdue on the current Southern dispute, she moved on to the fundamental problem of worn-out infrastructure struggling to cope with twenty-first century demand. Echoing the previous Chancellor’s assessment she declared: “Sussex is in desperate need of extra capacity, and the best way to create that is a second main line from the south coast to London. A proposal for this already exists: Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) would create a new route from the coast up to Canary Wharf which would take pressure off Brighton Mainline 1, making it easier to upgrade and maintain those creaking old tracks.”
She went on to tell its readers: “This project could begin in as little as 18 months; a feasibility study is already on Mr Grayling’s desk and foreign investors are waiting to fund it.”
Ending the industrial action, monitoring performance, investing in upgrades and building a new main line, was, she declared, the way forward – “Taken together, this is a blueprint for bringing efficient harmony back to the network which links some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside with our thriving capital.”
Just as appreciative of the crucial role which BML2 could play in the south is Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas who has been piling pressure on the Government to release the long-anticipated and very overdue £100k study begun last year. Tabling further questions in the House of Commons this month over when the Government might oblige, Caroline was despatched the following answer from HM Treasury on 1 Dec: “The former Chancellor commissioned the London South Coast Rail Corridor Study in 2015, which looks at the region’s rail transport needs broadly. The Study considers the case for investment in the Brighton Main Line, re-opening the Lewes-Uckfield line, as well as the ‘BML2’ concept, for a new mainline to London. The Government will publish the London and South Coast Rail Corridor Study, and its response to the recommendations, in due course.”
It has also been reported that Secretary of State Chris Grayling acknowledged the report had been on the table for far too long and promised that he would publish its findings very soon.
All-party support is also promised with long-standing BML2 champion Lord Bassam of Brighton offering to assist within London and the Houses of Parliament as the groundswell of backing behind the south’s premier project increases.
Meanwhile an Open Letter to Chris Grayling is being circulated among the region’s councils urging “the Government to follow the Chancellor’s lead in taking this project seriously and doing all it can to deliver BML2 as soon as possible.”
As we approach 2017 and with international investment lapping on our shores, there could never be a better time to roll out the carpet and show that Britain really is – ‘Open for Business’.
The BML2 website also says, in relation to Gatwick:
The campaign says:
East Croydon would remain served by the same standard and quality of services as today for everyone who wants to go there for work, shopping etc. However, non-stopping services would be able to avoid East Croydon and thus ease the bottleneck. More services could be run between London and the South Coast, whilst Gatwick airport could have its rail connections speeded-up and increased by means of the Stanwick Express dedicated shuttle services operating between Gatwick and Stansted through Canary Wharf and Stratford International.
Probably the biggest benefit of BML2’s London Phase is physically joining Stansted and Gatwick airports with one continuous railway which can operate dedicated shuttles connecting Gatwick – Canary Wharf – Stratford – Stansted. Stanwick would be one seamless journey between the two airports with interchange onto Crossrail.
Why Canary Wharf?
There are no spare paths into London Bridge, although some there would be nothing to stop BML2 trains going there, for example in emergencies or diversions. However, some truly immense benefits come with a new five mile railway beneath the Thames connecting Lewisham with Canary Wharf and Stratford. Terminating services in London takes up space and capacity –it’s better to go through – which was the argument for Thameslink in the 1980s.
Canary Wharf is already a key destination for commuters and with Crossrail will become even more significant. We’re not proposing running Crossrail trains on BML2 but having interchange at Canary Wharf and Stratford. There is also interest in having a new station on the south bank at Lewisham. People could be spared the wasted time, cost and so on of needlessly travelling right into London and back out again to Canary Wharf. The cost/benefit ratio would be impressive.