Communication links are vital so what about BML2?

Posted On 14 Feb 2020 at 12:10 am

The government is spending more than £300 million modernising and improving the railways to and from Brighton and Hove.

But the truth is that we are less well served than many other comparable towns and cities because of our location by the sea.

In reality, there are fewer ways to leave or enter Brighton, with rail services restricted to the main line and the coastway routes.

And we do not have a conventional ring road. So, despite the A27 Brighton bypass and its old route, now renamed the A270, traffic mainly comes and goes via the A23 and the seafront A259.

While the A23 has been widened and straightened, the Brighton main line is a single-track railway and it’s beyond full to capacity. It’s in great need of maintenance just to keep us slowly rolling along.

But we do have a chance of bringing about a positive change if we back the plan to restore old railways recently launched by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

For us in the city the Brighton Main Line 2 “Lewes to Uckfield” line is eligible to be considered as part of the £500 million Restoring Your Railways fund.

The money is intended to enable relatively quick approval for plans to reopen disused railways across the country, including many closed as part of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

The Restore Your Railways fund could mean that 75 per cent of the funds for the project are covered by government.

A business case will need to be presented to the Department for Transport by early next month setting out costs, levels of support locally and the potential growth that could come from reopened lines.

The best proposals will be examined in more detail, with successful bids announced in the summer.

The government is keen to get things moving quickly on these lines to allow work to begin as soon as possible.

This will at least allow us a choice of how we travel to and from London or other parts of the country, especially when the line is blocked.

And it could take the strain off our congested trains to and from Brighton.

Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.

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