In the budget statement there was a small but not insignificant item that almost slipped out unnoticed. It was an allocation of £100,000 for a new study into the viability of restoring the Lewes to Uckfield railway line.
While not the most important transport intervention in terms of reducing road traffic on the A27, it would:
- help reduce the number of cars driving to Brighton from Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells areas and hence on the Polegate to Brighton section of the A27
- boost the local economies, particularly of Brighton, Lewes, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells
- offer greater resilience and provide a more viable alternative for when the Brighton mainline was down for maintenance repairs
- reduce social exclusion for those without a car
- significantly improve the rail network and its connectivity within Sussex and Kent
- impact on the South Downs National Park both positively (from traffic reduction and improved connectivity) and negatively (from the reconstruction of the line within the Park)
The important thing is that the study is carried out by an independent body with a broad terms of reference so that all the benefits (social, economic and environmental) of the scheme can be captured. SCATE looks forward with interest to see what develops, although nothing much is likely to happen now until after the General Election.
For much more detail on restoring the Lewes – Uckfield rail link see the Railfuture website.