Monday, December 15, 2008

Lewes-Uckfield line in limbo

This article about a disused Sussex railway is by Dick Tyler of Railwatch magazine:

There is disbelief locally at the long-awaited report which has ruled that there is an “insufficient business case” for the reinstatement of the Lewes-Uckfield rail line in East Sussex. The line is in the most crowded part of the country, would give relief to an overcrowded Brighton line, and passengers are returning in droves to the environmentally friendly railways because of the rise in motoring costs.
The negative Network Rail report commissioned by the Central Rail Corridor Board was published on 23 July.
But former transport minister Tom Harris said before the board convened: ‘I would really like to see this go ahead, I think you have a very good case.” He added: “I want this project to succeed.”
Although there are no major obstacles to the reopening and the reinstated line would make a profit, Norman Baker MP, one of the board members, revealed the “business case” flaw. Network Rail is obliged to use current cost benefit analysis models which are loaded against rail. A review of the process is under way and hopefully there will soon be a new approach to analysis.
Currently the Treasury says time saved for the motorist is a benefit and has a monetary value while time saved for train and bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians is unimportant. It does not know the monetary value of landscapes, global warming, accessibility, social inclusion and quality of life.

Comment: People who live in Lewes know only too well the traffic chaos at rush hours and the buses needlessly traversing the town one-way system, at all hours of the day, for the lack of a roundabout. They also know that the town increasingly depends on good rail connections to London and elsewhere. East Sussex has been starved of investment by governments of all stripes. The policy is tax the peasants and give nothing in return.
Under the present NuLabour lot revived railways are sprouting up in Wales and Scotland, as payoffs to their voters, while the rest can go to hell. RLT.

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