THE East Sussex Rail Alliance’s demand for faster trains from Eastbourne for London reported in the Herald (April 29), requires more careful consideration.
As Southern no doubt told them, there is no additional capacity north of Haywards Heath or through East Croydon.
Trains from east or west Coastway that join at Haywards Heath are already of maximum length.
Is the Alliance’s proposal is simply to replace a number of Brighton to Victoria trains with an Eastbourne to Victoria?
Robbing Peter to pay Paul would be resisted by Brighton commuters and by Southern, who have recently improved the service, probably as far as it is possible.
Other options therefore are very limited. One could cut out stops on some existing services.
Does a train without stops at Lewes, Gatwick, not to mention Hampden Park or Polegate, presumably reducing them from a 30 minute service to an hourly service to allow one hourly fast and one slow, make sense?
Doing away with splitting at Haywards Heath to save eight minutes would reduce both Worthing/Littlehampton and Eastbourne trains to an hourly service, as happened in the past.
One suggestion to increase capacity was to split a Brighton train at Haywards Heath, but this would still involve the time penalty of joining so one of the existing trains would have to cut out stops.
A valuable start would be to reduce demand at Haywards Heath by reopening Lewes – Uckfield.
However, even this would not solve the capacity problem beyond Croydon.
Recognising the approaching limit to the capacity for the whole region, the 2010 Network Rail ‘Route Utilisation strategy’ even suggests considering new tunnels to approach London.
The proposals to build a ‘Brighton Main Line 2’ (see www.bml2.co.uk) combines a direct link from Uckfield to Brighton with links via Tunbridge Wells seems by comparison, relatively cost-effective.
Eastbourne and all of East Sussex, needs imaginative thinking and a detailed commitment to solving underlying long-term issues.