Buried in the budget papers today is the statement that the government will provide £100,000 for a further study into reopening the Lewes to Uckfield rail line. This is a major success for our campaign - we will work to steer the scope of the study to capture all the potential benefits.
The aim of the study should be to define a viable, widely-supported case for investment into reopening the Lewes – Uckfield line to strengthen the transport network, improve connectivity, drive economic growth and spread prosperity. Key stakeholders want a successful outcome to the study to meet long-standing needs and aspirations, so the terms of reference of the study must be set to capture the full range of potential benefits, rather than being limited to investigating a specific technical solution.
Benefits to the local and regional economy will derive from improving connectivity between communities, centres of business, employment, education and training, and leisure destinations:
- access for education and jobs between Kent, Surrey, the Weald, Lewes, Brighton and the Sussex Coast
- direct trains between London and Newhaven, supporting regeneration
- network resilience enabling visitors to reach Brighton and the Sussex Coast when the Brighton Main Line is closed, maintaining the visitor economy
- additional trains from Brighton, Eastbourne and Lewes to London, relieving the Brighton Main Line
- connectivity between the Weald and Gatwick for employment and travel
- faster more reliable journeys between Eastbourne, the Weald and London to support growing businesses
- Validate the transport and wider socio-economic and environmental benefits
- Engage a wide range of stakeholders including local businesses, educational establishments, local authorities, LEPs and rail user representatives
- Propose a feasible, affordable solution which captures the maximum benefits to achieve best value for money
- Identify a service pattern which will minimise journey times whilst maintaining existing service levels at intermediate stations
- Evaluate risks, and define mitigation strategies including potential phasing options
- Produce a viable business case on which investment decisions can be made as part of the Network Rail Long Term Planning Process and ORR Periodic Review for Control Period 6
Budget 2015 paragraph 2.53.
Wealden Rail Rally
Backing for Uckfield-Lewes from Nus Ghani and Tom Tugendhat, identifying the priorities for development of the Uckfield line