- Category: News Reports
Rather than being a stranded and sadly redundant railway edifice harking back to the great Victorian era and now incongruously surrounded by a supermarket car park, this wonderful station should be pride of place. With its proper and intended railway role revived, no better place of arrival for visitors could be imagined, whilst it would be a superb terminus for daily commuting with the opportunity for major additional car parking facilities on site.
It is proposed that the opportunity could be taken to redevelop the rest of the site, wholly in agreement and in partnership with Sainsbury’s and the aspirations of the Borough Council. Far better mixed commercial/residential use of the land is possible with a hopefully new and upgraded superstore forming an intrinsic part of a revitalised new district with superior rail connections. Needless to say, the planning and design would be entirely compatible with the owners’ interests, culminating in a development best-suited to the borough and the region’s requirement for vastly-improved rail services, densification of town centre residential development and increased local parking.
Accordingly, from Tunbridge Wells (West) it will be possible to board direct train services to Canary Wharf. This will radically shorten and improve journeys made by thousands of commuters who currently have no choice but to waste time going into busy London Bridge - only to travel out again on the equally-busy Jubilee line.
In addition to this, direct services and connections with many other London destinations are currently being discussed and will be put forward as opportunities continue to be developed. Canary Wharf will enable interchange for east-west Crossrail services on the new Elizabeth line, whilst the anticipated Lewisham interchange will give easy transfer to TfL’s impending Bakerloo line extension.
In partnership with the private sector’s firm commitment to BML2, as well as the growing political interest being shown in the project, there needs to be a strong and commensurate involvement from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and local business interests. It would also be requisite for larger authorities, namely Kent County Council, wholeheartedly to embrace the scheme and recognize its potential in a region which is seriously impeded by intractable transport conundrums being made worse due to the county’s proximity to London.
The City of Brighton & Hove has already voiced its strong support for BML2 because it appreciates the project’s Sussex Phase will bring growth, prosperity and opportunity, whilst delivering more capacity, new connections and other benefits to the South East’s hard-pressed network.
Whilst there are a number of planning and engineering challenges to overcome, these are considered to be easily within the envisaged technical scope, as well as the parameters of the business case. Representatives from the engineering sector of the corporations involved have already conducted preliminary site visits. Their knowledge and expertise have created astounding infrastructure projects across the globe on a vast scale, so it came as no surprise that they were undaunted by anything they are anticipating in engineering BML2.
Other aspects must include what provision could be made for the Spa Valley Railway (SpVR) and its operations?
Acceptable solutions are currently being investigated.
It cannot be too strongly stressed that better economic health and future prosperity of Tunbridge Wells and West Kent will accrue with the success of the BML2 project, which would integrate seamlessly with TWBC’s plans for Destination Town status including attracting many more visitors to a nearby new theatre, unique and specialist shops, restaurants and a revitalized shopping centre.
The alternative would be a continuation of already exacerbated problems on the local and regional road and rail network, which could lead to a decline in the borough’s long term prospects and appeal.
This must not be allowed to happen.
Far more detail is contained in a new 14pp downloadable report just published by the BML2 Project Team, entitled "What BML2 will do for Kent and Tunbridge Wells". Get your copy and circulate to friends and colleagues, and if appropriate, to your local Tunbridge Wells and Kent County councillors. Just click on above image to start the download. It should be printed out in A4 Landscape format.