Since its inception in 2010, the BML2 Project has evolved and even now is being further developed and enhanced.
Its principal aim is to substantially improve and enlarge the South East’s rail network by introducing new main lines whereby more services into London may operate. These new services would also usefully connect counties on both sides of the Thames by passing through the rapidly expanding eastern side of the capital.
So, despite what its name suggests, it is also a great deal more than just relieving pressure on the country's busiest and most congested rail route – the London-Brighton Line. Additionally, BML2 would not only be of great benefit to hard-pressed commuters, but would also restore valuable strategic rail links across Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
The BML2 Project can be summarised in three phases:-
Restoration of Sussex’s second-most important main line. This requires reopening the seven-mile ‘missing link’ between Uckfield and Lewes to provide a new direct route from Eastbourne, Seaford & Newhaven to London via Uckfield.
The construction of Ashcombe tunnel beneath the South Downs to deliver a fast, direct link into the City of Brighton & Hove, thus making it possible to operate many more trains between London and the Sussex Coast.
Put Falmer – the home of Brighton & Hove Albion (Amex stadium) and the University of Sussex – on a main line to London. This would make these important and expanding destinations more accessible from Sussex, Surrey, Kent, London and East Anglia.
Considerably reduce pressure on the Brighton Main Line to provide better conditions for travellers rather than forcing people to stand in crowded aisles for long parts of the journey.
Re-instatement of the former main line into Tunbridge Wells (West) from both the north (Ashurst) and south (Eridge) directions, thus linking the borough and western Kent fully into the core BML2 route.
Develop Tunbridge Wells (West) as a major commuter station and thereby reduce pressure on the Tonbridge Main Line into London. This route is similarly one of the most congested rail lines in the country, over which Network Rail says it is not possible to operate any more services into London at peak times.
Give Tunbridge Wells, which continues to be a fast-growing centre of commuting, direct train services to Canary Wharf but without today’s need to travel into central London and out again.
Open up Tunbridge Wells for business, tourism and trade from Brighton and across a wide area of Sussex and Surrey.
This is the most ambitious of the three phases and will easily be the most expensive – but it has the greatest potential and reward for all involved.
International investors are backing BML2 and in 2017 upgraded the project through London. In place of the original proposal to attempt reopening the partially-redundant rail corridor from Selsdon (south Croydon) to Lewisham via Elmers End, funding is now available to build a completely tunnelled fast line from Croydon into London. This has been termed by the London & Southern Counties Railway Consortium (LSCR) as ‘The London link’
Their proposal is a new subterranean line commencing south of Croydon (connecting all lines from the Sussex Coast); a new station in central Croydon (for interchange with East Croydon) then running fast to Lewisham to connect with the forthcoming extension of the Bakerloo Underground line. Interchange with North Kent services would also be possible.
Canary Wharf would be the next stop, for Crossrail and Jubilee line services and Docklands area.
Stratford comes next where interchange with Crossrail, Stratford International HS1, London Underground and national rail services would be possible. Further enhancements are being planned by LSCR and will be revealed at a later date.
CLICK HERE to see a larger version of the BML2 Route Map
BML2 does not merely provide faster journeys between Brighton and the expanding areas in London – commuters from many towns across the South East will directly benefit from increased destinations. Towns such as Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Seaford, Horsham, Chichester and many more, will be more accessible by train and have greater access to other places. Relieving the pressure of overcrowding will also benefit Hassocks, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Crawley and Croydon, etc. Nearby towns will also benefit from increased business, particularly those involved in tourism.
Gatwick is the country's second busiest airport which needs better rail links and services into London. BML2 would deliver a superior connection to Docklands and Canary Wharf. It would also be possible to introduce direct rail services to Stansted airport from the south, enabling both airports to work together with superior services through the expanding Docklands area. Other services to central London termini would continue as now.
With vastly-improved cross-London connections, commuters and tourists will find it easier to explore a greater part of the country – not just Sussex and Kent, but also Surrey, East Anglia and beyond.