Government backs upgrade of London to Brighton railway and refuses to fund BML2 concept that would be bad news for Addiscombe in particular
As anyone who uses our local rail service knows, even if there were no industrial action and the operator Govia Thameslink were performing satisfactorily the underlying infrastructure is old and struggling to cope with growing passenger numbers. The Government is investing billions upgrading the Thameslink route to London Bridge and beyond, but we also need a solution for the main line between Brighton and London Victoria. In July 2015,the Government commissioned the London & South Coast Rail Corridor Study to identify potential solutions. Yesterday it published the results.
The study finds that this line is among the busiest in the country and on top of the existing levels of usage could see an increase of up to 60% by 2043 at peak times. In terms of solutions, it finds that Network Rail’s proposed upgrade of the main line, which would include unblocking known infrastructure bottlenecks around East Croydon (an extra platform at the station, extra track to the north of it and a reconfiguration of Windmill Bridge Junction, where the main line crosses the line from West Croydon to Norwood Junction), could release capacity to meet passenger demand for at least the next 30 years. The upgrade would see the main line able to accommodate 44 trains per hour at peak times, up from 36 today. This would allow passengers boarding at East Croydon station to have access to a train to central London every 85 seconds in peak times.
The study also examines the case for re-instating formerly closed rail lines (such as the line between Lewes and Uckfield, closed in 1969) and building new links (including the ‘BML2’ concept, which would see a largely new line between the Sussex Coast and central London. This proposal would be highly detrimental to Croydon. The line would run up the tram track from near Lloyd Park to Addiscombe tram stop (which would either involve scrapping sections of the tram system or widening of the route via the purchase of people’s homes) and then a railway bridge over Lower Addiscombe Road. I am therefore delighted that the study concludes there is no case for the Government to take forward this scheme (though the Transport Secretary has met with promoters of the BML2 concept and suggested that they look at whether the scheme funded privately).
Crucially, the Government has accepted the study’s recommendations. It will be working with Network Rail on its proposed upgrade of the main line to confirm the study’s finding that the upgrade could be delivered for £1.2-£1.5bn in April 2016 prices and that sufficient passenger benefits would be delivered to justify this investment.
If you would like to view the full report it can be accessed here.