Maria Caulfield, the MP for Lewes , and the BML2 project team submitted their bid to the Restoring Your Railways fund. This programme funds 75% of costs of successful bids to help fund the reinstatement of rail lines closed during and after the Beeching cuts. Lewes MP Maria Caulfield is sponsoring the bid to reinstate 7 miles of former railway line between Lewes and Uckfield, as part of a Brighton Mainline 2 project.
Brighton Mainline 2 would transform the movement of people and freight across Sussex and Kent, covering a population of approximately 705,626 people. The area is currently poorly served by rail mainline access with either single track branch lines or lines in need of third rail electrification. As a result, many residents in Lewes are dependent on car usage to travel. With no motorway and little dual carriageway in the area, congestion, emissions, air pollution and delays are high. This project would significantly reduce car and HGV usage as part of the Governments’ net zero carbon emissions target.
The scheme aims to firstly reopen the Lewes to Uckfield line (closed in 1969) and the Tunbridge Wells Central and Eridge (closed in 1985) and Ashurst Triangle (closed in 1969), thereby linking Kent and Sussex as two strategic parts of the South East by rail.
The Lewes to Uckfield line, as a seven-mile missing link, would provide new direct routes from Eastbourne, Seaford & Newhaven, putting some towns on a mainline for the first time since these lines were closed decades ago.
The transport problems this scheme would work to solve are to increase rail capacity across Sussex and Kent in an area that has, according to current train operators reached capacity, as well as provide an alternative rail main line option for residents on the current Brighton Main Line so that if the current line fails, needs repair or experiences an incident that rail services can continue for passengers. It would expand public transport options for residents across Sussex and Kent where the lack of a commercially viable bus service means rail is the only solution, meet the net zero carbon targets by taking cars off the road, and boost tourism to seaside resorts and the South Downs National Park by improving connectivity.
Maria Caulfield said. “This is an exciting scheme as we desperately need better rail services for our towns and villages. This is part of the work we are doing to improve our transport infrastructure across Sussex and re-opening the Lewes to Uckfield line would be a fantastic start to this. “