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Sussex and Coastway

An integral part of Railfuture's London and South East regional branch, our Sussex and Coastway Division holds eleven meetings a year.

Area

Our area covers East and West Sussex (including the City of Brighton & Hove, and the 'MarshLink' to Ashford International in Kent), and includes the South Downs National Park, but excludes the far south west area of West Sussex which is covered by Railfuture Wessex branch.

Within our Sussex & Coastway Division there are four Rail User Groups affiliated to Railfuture:
The local Community Rail Partnership in our area is the Sussex CRP.

Meetings

We usually meet on the first Thursday of each month at 18.00, rotating our venues around East and West Sussex including Brighton & Hove.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday, 1 June 2017 in Haywards Heath at Clair Hall, Perrymount Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 3DN. Our guest speaker will be GTR's Head of Strategy Phil Hutchinson, returning to update us on the next phase of their 2018 timetable consultation. Another topic for brief discussion will be our Division's contribution to the Railfuture response to the consultation on Network Rail's draft Kent Area Route Study, central to plans for HS1 services for Rye, Hastings and Bexhill and continuation of the through Ashford-Brighton service (see MarshLink).
The following meeting will also be in Haywards Heath. On Thursday 20 July (out of 'first Thursday' sequence as we have no meeting in August) GTR's Passenger Services Director for Southern/Gatwick Express Angie Doll will be our guest speaker.

On 3 November 2016 we had a presentation from Paul Best (Strategic Planner, Sussex - Network Strategy & Planning), Network Rail.

On Sunday 18 September we had a stall at Haywards Heath Railway Station 175th Anniversary. More info: HH175

At our 8 September meeting we had a presentation from GTR's Head of Strategy Phil Hutchinson about their draft 2018 timetable consultation, launched that day for a 3-month period.

At our 7 April 2016 meeting in Eastbourne, we reviewed the third Hastings Summit organised by local MP Amber Rudd, held on 18 March, and discussed strategic issues to raise at a rail meeting convened by East Sussex County Council for Friday 22 April.

The previous meeting on 10 March was held in Haywards Heath and jointly with our Surrey division as we were addressed by Piero McCarthy from GTR/Southern.

At our meeting on 16 July 2015 in Haywards Heath, held jointly with our Surrey Division, Network Rail's Mike Smith, Route Enhancements Manager and Paul Best, Strategic Planner for their South East Route (Sussex and Kent Areas), joined us and informed a wide-ranging discussion about projects for delivery in the current CP5 until 2019 and the Sussex and Kent Area Route Studies looking forward to potential CP6 investments post-2019.

For more information contact our Minutes Secretary Michael Davies by e-mail.

Activities

The Sussex and Coastway division is leading two major campaigns:
  • Uckfield Lewes. Reopening the line between Uckfield and Lewes will create an additional route between London and the South Coast to help relieve the Brighton Main Line, enable residents of the Weald to travel to reach jobs and education in Brighton to support economic growth and spread prosperity in the county, and pave the way for Thameslink 2.
  • Marshlink. Redoubling the single line section between Rye and Winchelsea will enable a service frequency of two trains per hour, and electrification will enable a faster more reliable service with longer trains. This will provide the potential for through trains between Hastings and London which will support economic growth in Hastings, and an improved service at the smaller stations. At the first Hastings Rail Summit on 31 March 2014 the Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin announced that Javelin services would run to Hastings and Bexhill soon after 2019. At the second summit on 30 January 2015 Rail Minister Claire Perry demonstrated her commitment to the project by meeting the first Javelin to visit Hastings and Bexhill.
We contributed to the East Sussex Rail Strategy and Action Plan. The two key objectives of the action plan are to electrify Marshlink and the Uckfield line, as building blocks for a high speed Javelin service between Hastings and London St Pancras and reinstatement of Uckfield - Lewes.

In conjunction with local rail user groups calling for an improved service on Marshlink, we have held a number of station counts and supported the protest meeting at Winchelsea station on 7th December 2013 to call for the return of a usable Sunday service. STOP PRESS from Sunday 13 December 2015 all-day, alternate-hourly, Sunday services return to Winchelsea and Three Oaks stations.

As part of the London & South East regional branch of Railfuture, the Sussex and Coastway Division has contributed in the past 10 years to every form of consultation response, including Local Transport Plans, Local Development Frameworks, Multi-modal studies, Route Utilisation Strategies, DfT franchise proposals, and proposed timetable changes.
Stay up-to-date with all Railfuture and other regional and national events and key dates.

Catch up with other London & South East rail development campaigning news in the regional branch newsletter railse.

Take Part

We campaign for sustainable growth in market share for rail transport. Therefore we support initiatives which will improve the attraction of rail and create a successful, financially secure rail industry: sufficient capacity, efficient customer service, simpler fares, improved connectivity, faster schedules, network enhancements and improved competitiveness with other modes of transport. If you share these ideals please contact us or join here. We welcome new members, and people to share practical ideas and to help put plans into action.

Campaign Diary

In March 2012 Division members attended East Sussex County Council's three-day public exhibition in Uckfield which launched their public consultation on Uckfield traffic management improvements and distributed our first Bridge the gap leaflet.

A joint response in April with the regional branch supported a southern inner relief road built on a bridge up over the rail route as well as the adjacent and flood-prone River Uck. See Uckfield-Lewes for the consultation results. We have called on the County Council to work with others to seek match-funding for the developer contributions they already have, so that the new road bridge over rail and river can both bypass the most-congested road junction in the town centre, and also support the rail reopening by providing an alternative to the former High Street level crossing which will have to be fully closed for the reopened railway.

In April we also submitted a joint response with the regional branch to the consultation by Lewes District Council on 'Building a Brighter Future - A Regeneration Strategy for Lewes District'. We highlighted the role the reopened rail link would have in supporting economic activity in the District, and our wish to partner all stakeholders with an interest in exploring new ways of taking it forward to reopening in the early-2020's.
See Lewes District Council and enter 'Regeneration Strategy' in the search facility for Consultation Feedback and the Council's responses to the points we raised.

We attended the Annual Town Meeting of Uckfield Town Council on 18 April, the Town Conference of Crowborough Town Council on 25 April, and the Annual Assembly of Buxted Parish Council on 10 May, all of which are members of the Uckfield Line Rail Extensions Group and the 'parent' Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee. We asked questions about their stance on the shorter-term need to protect the rail route with a southern inner relief road up on a bridge over it, and the longer-term challenge of forming a new partnership to reopen Uckfield-Lewes during Network Rail's Control Period 6 starting in 2019, in time for the beginning of the long Thameslink-Southern franchise which will be no later than 2022.

On 17 May we attended the Edenbridge and District Rail Travellers Association AGM (EDRTA is affiliated to Railfuture) - see also Kent.

Sussex Community Rail Partnership made this statement at their Board meeting on 23 May: "Sussex CRP continues to be in favour of the opening of the Uckfield - Lewes line and is pleased to see a proposal for joint working which seeks to support this happening."

We considered the proposed modifications to Wealden District Council's Core Strategy Development Plan Document; consultation closed 13 June.

On 29 June we participated in the one-day workshop held in Lewes by East Sussex County Council to plan the implementation of their recently-adopted Economic Development Strategy. More info: ESCC EDS

On 11 July we attended the meetings of the Uckfield Line Rail Extensions Group (ULREG) and the Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee (URLPC).

On 13 July we were in the audience at Uckfield Community Technical College for the weekly BBC Radio 4 'Any Questions?'

We then had a stall at the Big Day of the annual Uckfield Festival on Saturday 14 July, and launched our new campaign leaflet 'Bridge the gap: link up Sussex'.
The 10-year timeline to reopen the line shown in the leaflet is based on the phases given in the final report of the 2008 Network Rail Reinstatement Study - see section 7 'Programme'.

Following publication of the results of the Uckfield traffic improvements consultation, we and other local campaign groups were invited to join the Uckfield Town Centre Steering Group and we attended its meeting on 17 July. Our proposal to set up a Transport Hub Working Group was accepted, as later were our suggested terms of reference. More info: Uckfield traffic improvements - Consultation results.

On 18 August the regular quarterly meeting of our Kent Division was held in Robertsbridge, home of the Rother Valley Railway. Held jointly with Sussex and Coastway it incorporated a regional branch members' meeting from 11.00 featuring Uckfield Lewes reopening and the Lavender Line to the west, the Spa Valley Railway to the north, the Rother Valley Railway and Kent & East Sussex Railway to the east, and local rail campaign issues outstanding from the work done by the Hastings Alliance and others, and their response to the planned Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, such as a new station at Glyne Gap. See new step forward and 2 November local stakeholder meeting below.

At our 6 September meeting in 'The Station', Uckfield we were joined by representatives from local Parish, Town and District Councils and other local organisations with an interest in extending the Uckfield line to Lewes by the early-'20s.

We attended the meeting on 12 September of the URLPC.

We attended the 13 September meeting in Uckfield of the Wealden Local Strategic Partnership. Our representative was able to introduce Railfuture and our local campaign.

Friday 14 September was the revised closing date for the DfT's consultation on the next combined standard-term franchise for Thameslink/Southern/Great Northern services. The division contributed to Railfuture's response which can be viewed in submissions.

On 18 September the County Council ran an information evening at County Hall, Lewes on 'Becoming a County Councillor' in the elections next May. More info: Elections 2013

We participated in the County Council's focus group held in Uckfield on 20 September discussing some of the proposed traffic management improvements for the town centre, including an improved bus station near the railway station as one element in an integrated town centre transport hub.

We responded to Wealden District Council's public consultation on their draft Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule, which closed on 21 September. See Wealden CIL where in the CIL webpage our comments can be seen at reference CIL32.

On 26 September the Sussex Community Rail Partnership held their annual Stakeholder Meeting for the Uckfield and East Grinstead lines, in Oxted. Read more, including the SCRP Development Officer and Network Rail presentations, plus meeting Minutes, at SCRP

On 11 October the Uckfield Town Centre Steering Group considered an update on the County Council's traffic management proposals, following the focus group on 20 September (above).

On 12 October we observed a full Board meeting of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, discussing their role in a new Local Transport Body. More info: SELEP. Of particular background interest is the report they commissioned and was published in May "Framework for Prioritising Strategic Transport Infrastructure in the SELEP area", viewable/downloadable by clicking here, which added Newhaven as an international gateway, the only sea port to secure such added recognition. In the context of 'Lewes-Uckfield Railway Re-instatement' (ranked 7th of 11 long-term rail schemes) it is also noteworthy that one of the consultants' conclusions was that "It is important to note that the priority afforded to a scheme may bear little relationship to the quality of the scheme. ... Authorities should have the opportunity to submit new evidence each time the list is reviewed/updated." We have every intention of providing the evidence to justify an improved ranking!

We participated in Southern's Stakeholder Forum in Croydon on 17 October, where we met the Head of Stakeholder Management in the team from Southern's owning group Go-Ahead who are bidding for the new combined Thameslink franchise. We explained our campaign, and our clear expectation that we should be able to work closely with the winning bidder to develop the project during the life of the next franchise. See the Railfuture response to the DfT's consultation on the next, combined, franchise, and in particular Q.21, here.

On 23 October we participated in the first meeting of the Uckfield Transport Hub Working Group, which we had suggested to the Uckfield Town Centre Steering Group on 17 July, and which has adopted with minor modifications the terms of reference suggested by us. The Working Group's initial focus is on bus station improvements, and the creation of a car park on the former station site currently owned by BRB(R) Ltd. All parties are pressing the DfT to transfer ownership to Network Rail next year, when BRB(R)Ltd. is abolished, so that they can implement the car park project before the end of Control Period 4 in March 2014. Many have written to the Minister of State for Transport The Rt. Hon. Simon Burns MP to strengthen the case: Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR, or used the contact form at contact DfT. Contact was also made with Wealden MP Rt. Hon. Charles Hendry MP to show public support for the idea using the postal address or email form here. UPDATE - See 13 December meeting below.

On 1 November we met County Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre, following her meeting with new Transport Minister Rt. Hon. Simon Burns MP - Lewes MP Norman Baker introduces County Councillor to Transport Minister. Her constituency Ringmer & Lewes Bridge includes the railway route between Uckfield and Lewes. We then held our monthly meeting in Brighton where we were joined by Brighton & Hove City Council's Deputy Chair of Transport Councillor Matt Follett.

On 2 November Division Convener Dick Tyler represented us at a local stakeholder meeting to consider fresh prospects for a station at Glyne Gap between Bexhill and St. Leonards Warrior Square.

On 2 November we met the Bid Director for MTR Corporation, another of the five bidders for the next combined Thameslink franchise, and had a similar conversation as with Go-Ahead on 17 October.

We attended the meeting of the East Sussex Strategic Partnership in Uckfield on 6 November. It considered a report on progress with the Third Local Transport Plan. More info: ESSP

We attended the URLPC meeting in Buxted on 7 November.

On 14 November Sussex Community Rail Partnership held the inaugural meeting for the new line CRP for the Brighton-Seaford line.

We attended the Wealden Local Strategic Partnership meeting on 20 November, in Heathfield. We shared the advert published this week in the December edition of 'Modern Railways' inviting Expressions of Interest from consultancies in producing an updated business case for the Uckfield-Lewes reopening.

On 22 November the monthly 'Modern Railways' published our advertisement inviting from consultants Expressions of Interest in generating a new, positive business case for an extended Uckfield line for through services to Lewes and beyond.

The Uckfield Town Centre Steering Group met on 22 November. It considered a further update on the County Council's traffic management proposals, and a report on the first Transport Hub Working Group on 23 October (above).

On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November we took a stand on a national railway stage. The annual Warley Show, held in the National Exhibition Centre by Birmingham International Airport, provided the arena for a display of our 'Bridge the gap: link up Sussex' campaign leaflet and the Expressions of Interest advertisement published earlier in the week, together with copies of current and recent issues of 'Railwatch' which have featured our reopening campaign.

Sussex Community Rail Partnership held their latest meeting for the Uckfield and East Grinstead lines CRP on 27 November.

On 28 November we participated in the Uckfield Tweetup, a meeting in 'The Station' with half-a-dozen Uckfield residents on Twitter.

On 2 December three of us headed to Plymouth for meetings there and in Tavistock on 3 December with local representatives to learn more about their scheme to reinstate services on a reopened route between Bere Alston and Tavistock, the subject of a 'priced option' in the DfT's Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the next Great Western franchise.

Our monthly meeting on 6 December was held in Newhaven, where we were joined by Lewes District Council's Head of Regeneration and Economic Development with an interest in the connectivity benefits for Newhaven of the rail link between Lewes and Uckfield being re-instated.

We again observed the meeting of the full Board of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership on 7 December. More info: SELEP

Monday 10 December saw the introduction of an additional early-morning train from Uckfield to London Bridge, departing at 05.18, in response to ever-rising demand. We were at Uckfield station offering all morning commuters the opportunity to add their voice to the growing clamour for the former station site to be transferred by the DfT to Network Rail so that they can create a sorely-needed 130-space station car park. This will be a vital element in the development of an integrated town centre transport hub for multi-modal interchange between car/bus/taxi/motor-cycle/cycle and train, and being designed to anticipate the reopening of the rail connection to Lewes and beyond in the foreseeable future.

10 December was also the date for the East Sussex County Council's Transport and Environment Lead Member meeting, scheduled 'to consider approval of a two-phased approach for taking forward the Uckfield town centre traffic management scheme' - see Forward Plan 1/12/12-31/3/13 and the press release following the meeting.

We participated in the second meeting of the Uckfield Transport Hub Working Group on 12 December.

Wealden District and Uckfield Town Councils met the Minister of State for Transport Rt. Hon. Simon Burns MP on 13 December. The delegation was introduced by the Wealden MP, Rt. Hon. Charles Hendry MP, pressing the case for the former Uckfield station site to be transferred direct from BRB(R) Ltd. to Network Rail for them to create a new 130-space station car park by March 2014. See also Wealden MP supports reopening. Please write to or email him with messages of support for the case for transferring the former Uckfield station site direct to Network Rail, using the postal address or email form here. You can also write to the Minister of State at Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR or by email using the form here.

2013 promised to be an active year for our Bridge the gap: connect East Sussex campaign.

On 8 January Network Rail published its Strategic Business Plan for 2014-19, and we are looking for their plans to meet the capacity challenge on the Uckfield-London Bridge corridor identified in last July's High Level Output Specification. The Office of Rail Regulation launched a public consultation on the SBP, closing on 19 February.

On 9 January we participated in the meetings of the Uckfield Line Rail Extensions Group (ULREG) and the Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee in Buxted.

On 15 January we attended the Wealden Local Strategic Partnership meeting in Crowborough.

On 16 January we observed the meeting of the Rother Local Strategic Partnership in Bexhill.

On 17 January our Sussex & Coastway meeting was held over the county boundary in Edenbridge, one of the four communities in Kent with stations on the Uckfield line.

On 23 January we attended the East Sussex Strategic Partnership meeting in Lewes to update members on key campaign developments since their 6 November meeting.

31 January was the closing date for consultants' submissions of Expressions of Interest in producing a positive business case for a scheme based on extending services on the Uckfield line to Lewes and beyond. Before then we met the consultants responding to our advertisement in the December issue of 'Modern Railways' (see 22 November 2012 above). The meeting was hosted by Railfuture Vice-President Lord Tony Berkeley in the House of Lords.

On 11 February we were invited to talk about our 'Bridge the gap: connect East Sussex' campaign to the Bexhill Rail Action Group BRAG, one of four affiliates of the East Sussex Rail Alliance ESRA.

On 13 February we participated in the third meeting of the Uckfield Transport Hub Working Group.

19 February was the closing date for the public consultation by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) on Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan. Railfuture's national response can be viewed here under Office of Rail Regulation.

On 22 February we attended a social meeting of the Wealden District Association of Local Councils.

On 2 March Railfuture committed money from its Fighting Fund to engage JR Consulting to start building a strategic alliance of stakeholders to promote a better bigger Wealden railway, including reopening the Uckfield - Lewes rail link. Read local press coverage.

On 4 March we attended the briefing for Wealden LSP and Town and Parish Councils on the proposed Strategic Sites Development Plan Document and draft Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule - following our submission on 21 September 2012 (see above). A further period for public representations will follow in the summer.

On 7 March we were invited to attend the Board meeting of the Sussex Community Rail Partnership as an observer. Our Division later met in The Station, Uckfield.

On 13 March the meeting of the Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee had to be postponed.

On 15 March we observed the full Board meeting of the South East LEP, and the first public meeting of the new SE Local Transport Board.

Also on Friday 15 March, a year to the day since the public exhibition which launched the consultation on the County Council's options for Uckfield Town Centre traffic improvements, and on Saturday 16 March, there was a follow-up public exhibition in Uckfield Civic Centre on Town Centre improvements: help us to make it happen in Uckfield. More info: consultation.

On 21 March we exhibited at the Lewes & District Enterprise Expo.

On 27 March we participated in the South East Economic Growth and Infrastructure Summit.

On 4 April we participated in the meeting of the Wealden Local Strategic Partnership in Hailsham. Our Division meeting was held later in Lewes.

On 8 April we returned to the Bexhill Rail Action Group BRAG, one of four affiliates of the East Sussex Rail Alliance ESRA, to discuss Network Rail's Long-Term Planning Process, the building-block for infrastructure investment in Control Period 6 from 2019-24.

On 9 April the candidates for the East Sussex County Council elections on 2 May were published here.

12 April was the closing date for responses to the public consultation by Brighton & Hove City Council on their City Plan. N.B. Section Four, City-Wide Policies, A Sustainable City, in CP9 Sustainable Transport para.4.98 on page 170: "The need for rail service capacity and line improvements between the Sussex Coast and London, including the reinstatement of the rail line between Lewes and Uckfield, are supported."

On 16 April we observed the meeting of the Rother Local Strategic Partnership.

On 17 April we participated in the fourth meeting of the Uckfield Transport Hub Working Group. In the evening we participated in Uckfield Town Council's annual Town Meeting - see p.16 - and the meeting of the Wealden District Association of Local Councils.

On 18 April we attended the East Sussex Strategic Partnership meeting in Eastbourne, which elected a new Chair Keith Stevens of the East Sussex Association of Local Councils. That evening we took part in the annual Town Meeting of Lewes Town Council.

On 24 April we attended the Crowborough Town Council annual Town Conference.

26 April was the closing date for responses to the County Council's proposals for Uckfield town centre. See traffic improvements and consultation.

On Thursday 2 May voters went to the polls to elect County Councillors in East Sussex, and other counties, for the next four years. The East Sussex results are here. In the evening our Division meeting considered preparations for a shared county-wide rail development agenda, and Network Rail's draft Passenger Market Study for London & South East, part of their emerging Long-Term Planning Process, which is out for consultation until 25 July. A range of local Rail User Groups and other like-minded organisations joined us.

On 8 May we participated in the meeting of the Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee, and we observed the Buxted Parish Council Annual Assembly.

On 10 May Network Rail ran a briefing for county and unitary authorities south of the Thames on its London & South East Passenger Market Study draft for consultation, one of four in the first phase of its new Long Term Planning Process which looks 30 years ahead and paves the way for planning investment in the 2019-24 Control Period 6.

Tuesday 21 May saw the first meeting of the newly-elected Full Council for East Sussex. We attended the Barcombe Parish Council Annual Parish meeting.

On 22 May we made a presentation to the Wealden Local Strategic Partnership meeting in Heathfield. Later we attended the Newhaven Town Council Annual Town Meeting.

On 23 May we participated in the open AGM of the Railfuture-affiliated Edenbridge & District Rail Travellers' Association, in the WI hall in Edenbridge at 19.00.

On 24 May the South East Local Transport Board held their second public meeting. More info: SE Local Transport Board.

On 5 June we volunteered some physical help to Sussex CRP as they with Southern undertook some vegetation clearance and other improvements at Newhaven Harbour station.

Our regular monthly meeting on 6 June followed-up the 2 May meeting's work on finalising our response to the County Council's request for comments on Network Rail's consultation on their draft Passenger Market Study for London & South East, part of their emerging Long-Term Planning Process.

On 9 June the BBC Parliament channel screened a series of programmes including the Wealden and Lavender lines.

On 12 June the Office of Rail Regulation published its 'draft determination' on Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan for investment in 2014-19, which plans extra capacity on Uckfield line services with longer, 10-car Turbostar trains accommodated with platform extensions. Comments can be submitted until 4 September. More info: ORR.

On 20 June we participated in the fifth meeting of the Uckfield Transport Hub Working Group.

On 28 June we observed the meetings of the South East LEP full Board and the SE Local Transport Board.

On Saturday 6 July the annual walk along the trackbed took place, from Lewes station to Uckfield station via the Lavender Line at Isfield.

On 10 July we participated in the meeting of the Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee.

On Saturday 13 July we had a stall at the annual Uckield Festival with a stall on Luxford Field for the Big Day.

On 15 July we presented our adviser's report "Access and Connections: East Sussex - Opportunities to align railway investment to the economic growth requirements of East Sussex" to the County Council's new Lead Member for Economy and the Director of Economy Transport & Environment.

On 17 July we observed the meeting of the Rother Local Strategic Partnership, which covers the area which includes the site for the potential new station at Glyne Gap.

On 18 July we attended the East Sussex Strategic Partnership meeting in Hastings. In the evening we presented our adviser's report to our open Division meeting.

On 23 July we participated in the Wealden Local Strategic Partnership meeting in Uckfield.

Thursday 25 July was the closing date for responses to Network Rail's draft Market Study for London & South East, part of their emerging Long-Term Planning Process.

Monday 29 July was the closing date for Wealden District Council's public consultation on the development of strategic sites in Uckfield and Hailsham.

On 30 July we participated in a Coastal Communities Workshop run by the South East LEP.

On 3 and 4 August we had a stall at Eridge station during a weekend of events run by the Spa Valley Railway.

On 8 August Network Rail ran a further briefing for local authorities on its London & South East Passenger Market Study draft, following the close of public consultation on 25 July. It is one of four in the first phase of its new Long Term Planning Process which looks 30 years ahead and paves the way for planning investment in the 2019-24 Control Period 6.

On 14 August East Sussex County Council's Lead Member for Economy, Councillor Rupert Simmons, approved the draft Rail Strategy, 'Shaping Rail in East Sussex', for consultation with stakeholders, including the holding of a stakeholder event to inform the final Strategy. Full details here.

On 22 August we attended a presentation of a study commissioned jointly by Rother District and East Sussex County Councils, with Land Securities Group, into prospects for an additional station east of Bexhill at Glyne Gap. With a very weak Benefit:Cost Ratio, the final report recommended that pursuing a new station there should be dropped from further consideration.

On 4 September we submitted our response to the Office of Rail Regulation's 'draft determination', published on 12 June, on Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan for 2014-19. Railfuture's response proposed (para 9.95) that the required output of longer trains on the Uckfield line be achieved by electrification - selective door opening and corridor connections between the Electrostar units would render longer platforms unnecessary at the smaller stations. Our proposal was supported by submissions from a partnership of local of stakeholders including East Sussex, Kent and Surrey County Councils, Sussex CRP, Wealden Strategic Partnership, Wealden and Sevenoaks District Councils, Wealden MP the Rt Hon Charles Hendry, Bexhill and Battle MP the Rt Hon Gregory Barker and Passenger Focus.

On 6 September we observed the SE Local Transport Board.

Also on 6 September East Sussex County Council published their draft Rail Strategy for public consultation until Monday 7 October.

On Saturday 7 September we had a stall at the annual Fete de Newhaven, 9am-3pm in Newhaven High Street, organised by Newhaven Community Development Association.

On 16 September we participated in the Symposium organised by East Sussex County Council to consider their draft Rail Strategy.

On 18 September we participated in the AGM of the Uckfield Railway Line Parishes Committee, in Buxted.

On 19 September we participated in the Wealden Strategic Partnership meeting.

The SE Local Enterprise Partnership full Board was on 4 October.

On 7 October we submitted the Railfuture response to the County Council's draft Rail Strategy consultation.

On Thursday 17 October we participated in the East Sussex Assembly Annual Conference and the following East Sussex Strategic Partnership meeting in Eastbourne.

On Thursday 24 October we participated in the sixth meeting of the Uckfield Transport Hub Working Group.

The final East Sussex Rail Strategy and Action Plan was approved by Cllr Rupert Simmons, Lead Member of Economy, on 12 November.

The December issue of Modern Railways contained a 7 page article which explained the Railfuture campaign to reinstate the Uckfield to Lewes rail line, which is the missing link in the Sussex railway network.

In the Parliamentary debate on National Infrastructure Plan on 4 December, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander described the Uckfield to Lewes line as important, and the Network Rail study on Brighton Main Line was accelerated.

The DfT 'Tech connected' policy published 6 December is driving London/Oxford/Cambridge links and improvement to Brighton Main Line.

We supported the protest meeting at Winchelsea station on 7 December to call for the return of a usable Sunday service.

On 8 January 2014 Network Rail confirmed their application for planning permission to build new Uckfield station car park, to open in the summer. They then cleared the site.

The ORR Final Determination committed Network Rail to increase Uckfield line capacity by lengthening platforms to accommodate longer trains - but left the option open for Network Rail to propose alternative solutions. The DfT Invitation To Tender for the Thameslink Southern Great Northern franchise required the new operator to provide these longer trains by December 2016. However in their draft CP5 Delivery Plan, Network Rail continued with the longer platform option, but not until March 2018. In our response of 30 January to the draft CP5 Delivery Plan we again proposed that longer trains on the Uckfield line be achieved by electrification and urged Network Rail to work with the franchise bidders and the local LEPs and county councils to jointly bridge the funding gap. We also proposed that since the Brighton Main Line has six of the top ten locations for reactionary delays, Network Rail use the Journey Time Improvement Fund to deliver Lewes-Uckfield reinstatement, Uckfield - Hever redoubling, and grade separation at East Croydon sooner than CP6, which is the earliest that would otherwise be possible.

On 3 February BBC1 Inside Out featured poor road and rail networks in the South East, including proposals to reinstate Uckfield-Lewes and improve Marshlink.


"Uckfield: it has no particular attractions" - Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain and Ireland, by George Bradshaw, 1863.

Really? See community website for Uckfield, also Lewes, plus Uckfield News and Lewes-online.

Contact

michael.j.davies21 at btinternet.com



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