Latest Rail News

10.05.13

Potential reopening for Lewes – Uckfield

Network Rail has been asked to reexamine opening the Lewes – Uckfield railway line, which closed in 1969.

The Government’s Rail Investment Strategy requires additional capacity on the route by 2019, which is likely to be achieved by introducing more carriages. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin is launching a new study looking at the rail provision between London and the south coast beyond 2019.

McLoughlin said: “I am alive to local interest in re-opening this line and wider concerns about rail capacity between London and the south coast and this is why I have commissioned this study.

“It will help us to understand exactly what the issues are and build upon previous work that has looked at these questions.”

Richard Eccles, Network Rail director of network strategy and planning, said: “The railway between London and Brighton is one of the busiest routes in the country and there is very little space available to run additional trains.

“As the number of passengers continues to grow, it is right that we look at a wide variety of options which may help provide extra capacity in future, ensuring that the rail network can continue to support and drive economic growth in the region.

“We are already reviewing the options for capacity enhancements to Brighton and the south coast corridor and this work will feed into a Sussex route study due for development in 2014. Within this we will include a review of the value that a re-opened Lewes – Uckfield line could play in meeting future needs.”

Chris Page of Railfuture welcomed the news and said: “We feel there is a strong long-term case for a second main line to Brighton, but our experience is that other rail developments have happened incrementally, so we have to take one step at a time.  Our proposals must fit in with Network Rail plans.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Image c. Mintguy under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Comments

Peter Andrews   10/05/2013 at 15:23

From my perspective of both living near Lewes and working in the Rail Industry I feel that reopening the Lewes-Uckfield line would be an excellent investment. As well as providing an alternate route to London from Brighton and the South East, on a local level this would greatly reduce the current road traffic between Lewes and Uckfield for people who work in Lewes and Brighton but live in Uckfield. A reopened line would hence greatly reduce the current peak hours congestion on that route. It gets my backing that's for sure

Robert - Redhill   10/05/2013 at 21:04

I live in Redhill and frequently visit London on business. The trains are desperately overcrowded and I never get a seat and maybe then, only at East Croydon. Even though some of the trains have been lengthened to 12 coaches the overcrowding seems to be on the increase. An alternative route would divert passengers from the coast and allow the Brighton main line to become less congested. My hope would be that any future rail system through the Uckfield line would not compromise the length of trains currently operating through Redhill. We have friends in Uckfield and they have mentioned that huge numbers of people are moving to their neighbourhood and the town is growing all the time. If this is the case there is certainly scope for a good quality electric service in that region especially as other towns nearby are also growing at a substantial rate. Robert Redhill

Paul, Flitwick   10/05/2013 at 21:17

The logical thing to my mind would be to reopen the existing line as far as just north of Barcombe, then a new alignment via Ringmer (new stn) with a brighton facing junction with the existing line immedately east of Glynde Station. Reopen Tun Wells to Eridge as well and the 2 per hour 12 car Thameslink trains proposed to terminate at Tunbridge Wells could be extended to Brighton via Lewes giving an extra 24 carriages per hour capacity. Add in a half hourly 12 car service from London Bridge to Brighton via Uckfield and you have a serious capacity increase without needing any extra paths through south London. If the junction at Glynde were triangular you could also divert some peak hour Eastbourne to London services via Uckfield releasing paths on the Brighton line for extra services elsewhere. The other logical thing to do to provide extra capacity would be to redouble the spur to the fast line at Streatham Junction, reinstate the through lines at Ewell East and run some trains from the Littlehampton area via Dorking in the peaks instead of sending them all through Gatwick and East Croydon.

Shaun   10/05/2013 at 22:22

Always great news to hear about lines re-opening. i completely agree with the above comments. I just think there is far too much money spent on studies, strategies, consultations, overarching frameworks, quality corridors and all the paraphernalia that goes with it. Its clear the line is needed. Just get on with it and stop blowing tax payer's money on leaching consultants who get paid exorbitant fees even if the lines are not re-opened!

Neil, Waterloo   13/05/2013 at 10:51

Unsure if reinstating the Uckfield to Lewes line could help the core Brighton mainline. The journey time to Lewes and Brighton would be much longer than via Gatwick. Being a former station manager for this route I fully support the need for extra seats on the Oxted lines during the peak periods. Faster trains to East Grinstead and Oxted could help ease overcrowding on the Redhill route as many Oxted line residents do drive to BML stations. I do like Paul from Flitwick suggestion of utilising the Dorking route more. With a turnback siding at Cheam or resignalling at Sutton along with signal improvements beyond Leatherhead this could be a more cost effective "short term" solution to the current capacity issues.

Jon - Uckfield   13/05/2013 at 14:17

The real reason for increased use of the Uckfield line is the relative cheapness compared to the Brighton and Hastings main lines. Its crazy that its significantly cheaper for a commuter to drive from central Tunbridge Wells or Haywards Heath to the nearest Uckfield line stations. This cost advantage would no doubt evaporate with any line upgrade, resulting in customers returning to their nearest stations AND higher fares for Uckfield line locals. Those travelling on through trains from the South coast would experience extended journey times via Uckfield, whilst those of us for whom the existing Uckfield line is our local route would no doubt have a greater problem getting a seat. The other options for taking unecessary trains (such as the suggested Dorking option, and elimination of short formation/duplicate TOC trains) off the BML sound a lot more appealing ! Its a shame that the views of a vocal campaign group seems to driving a review rather than true consideration of ALL options for ALL sussex routes. Not all Uckfield line commuters share their views !

Chris   13/05/2013 at 23:01

A solution looking for a problem, as Network Rail have said in the past the real capacity issues are East Croydon and into London - sort that out and you can run more trains to Brighton. While a secondary route would be helpful, it would be far cheaper simply to build an Amberley Chord and send trains via Dorking. I think you can guess the conclusion already - may have some merit in the long term, but London capacity is the pressing need.

Chris   14/05/2013 at 11:25

Lewes-Uckfield reopening has been studied to death, why waste more resources on another study that will have the same result as before and should be concentrating on finding ways to increase capacity into central London. We need a new railway between south of Croydon and central London, and until that is built there is little point increasing capacity further south. If Lewes - Uckfield were built is it realistic to expect passengers from Lewes to swap a 65 minute journey to London with a 90 minute journey via Uckfield? Let's say hypotheitically it did happen and additional trains were run, which trains do passengers wish to remove between Croydon and London to enable additional trains to run? Or if as suggested by Paul the Thameslink Tunbridge Wells trains were extended that are desparately needed for Sevenoaks commuters etc and hypothetically large numbers of south coast passengers joined them, what are the passengers Sevenoaks and Orpington going to think with all the seats taken? Don't worry at Sevenoaks, passengers from Lewesetc would never travel that way. THose suggestions of sending trains via Dorking the same issue, how do you get additional trains through congested South London into central London? Only by taking other trains out. The issue Jon raises of fares is very poigniant. If linked with the South Coast, the fares would have to be aligned with the south coast fares to avoid it being cheaper to buy two tickets for one journey which would upset all the current Uckfield line commuters. Let's stop wasting time and effort with Lewes Uckfield and get working on how to achieve additional capacity into central London for the benefit of travellers from all of Southern England and South London

Nonsuchmike   24/05/2013 at 16:23

Myopia rules, and is alive in central planning offices. Both routes - via Uckfield and via Dorking need implementing without pfaffing about for ten years. Yes there is a need for track/junction re-alignment near Lewes, but trains through Dorking by way of Amberley can either go via Wimbledon, West Croydon or Mitcham. If the will and the funding are there, then all these options could be in place and finished by the end of 2017.

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