Wealden Line

Wealden Line

Taking its name from its route through the chalk hills of the North and South Downs of the Weald, England, the Wealden Line [http://www.wealdenlink.org.uk/ Wealden Link Website] is a partly abandoned double track railway line in East Sussex and Kent that connected Lewes with Tunbridge Wells, a distance of 25¼ miles (44.4 km).

The line is essentially composed of three sections. The first part from Lewes to Uckfield was closed on 4 May 1969 and the second part from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells West closed on 6 July 1985. The third section running from Uckfield to Eridge remains open as part of the Oxted Line.

The second section has now partly re-opened under the auspices of the Spa Valley Railway, whilst the Lavender Line has revived Isfield Station, one of the abandoned stations on the first section. There has been a concerted campaign since 1986 led by the Wealden Line Campaign to have the whole line re-opened to passenger traffic and recent developments have indicated that this may yet happen.



Authorisation for the construction of a line from Brighton to Hastings via Lewes was first obtained by the Brighton, Uckfield & Tunbridge Wells Railway in 1844, sponsored by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR), with the passing of the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway Act (7 & 8 Vict. c. xci.). However, no works were commenced and another independent company, the Lewes and Uckfield Railway Company, was incorporated and secured on 27 July 1856 the passing of an Act to construct a line covering the 7½ miles between the two towns from a point 1½ miles north of Lewes to be known as Uckfield Junction, on the LBSCR's East Coastway Line.

Attracted by the prospect of extra patronage of the existing East Coastway Line which with Lewes had been linked in 1846, the LBSCR supported the company's proposals and a connection linking Lewes to Uckfield was opened on 11 October 1858 to goods traffic, with passenger traffic following one week later. The initial service consisted of five trains each way on weekdays and three on Sundays. A four-horse coach service ran between Tunbridge Wells and Uckfield.


The LBSCR purchased the Lewes and Uckfield Railway Company in 1864 and in the same year obtained authorisation to build a new line, 3 miles long, running almost parallel with the East Coastway Line which enabled the line from Uckfield to obtain independent access to Lewes and without having to pass through the Lewes Tunnel. This new section struck out at a right angle from the Uckfield line about a quarter of a mile east of the village of Hamsey, and approached Lewes from a northerly direction. It was a more heavily engineered section requiring a number of embankments and bridges before joining the East Coastway Line at a point east of Lewes Station. It enabled steam trains to be positioned in the correct direction for Brighton, and obviated the need for them to be turned. This new section opened on 1 October 1868, part of the original connection to Uckfield Junction closing as a consequence.

Extension to Tunbridge Wells West

The Lewes-Uckfield line was extended north to Eridge and Tunbridge Wells in 1864, ostensibly to counter a threat by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway which had proposed the construction of a line from Beckenham to Brighton. The rights to construct this line had been granted to the Brighton, Uckfield & Tunbridge Wells Railway in 1861, but these were subsequently purchased by the LBSCR before completion. Construction had already commenced in 1863 on a single track from Tunbridge Wells West to the new Groombridge Junction and this was opened on 1 October 1866. The completion of the line south to Uckfield had, however, to wait until 3 August 1868 due to the major structural work involved. Most notably, the LBSCR had to oversee the construction of Rotherfield (later Crowborough) Tunnel (1022 yards) beneath the ridge of the Wealden Heights, as well as the Sleeches and Greenhurst viaducts between Crowborough and Buxted.

The "Sussex Advertiser" reported on 5 August 1868 that the first train departed the LBSCR's station at Tunbridge Wells at 6.04am for Uckfield, Lewes and Brighton with approximately 40 persons having booked tickets.

Doubling and non-electrification

A single set of track was later provided to link in Tunbridge Wells Central in 1872. The line from Uckfield was finally double-tracked in 1894. The Withyham Spur between Ashurst and Birchden Junction was doubled by 7 June 1914. The Wealden Line then completed what was called the Outer Circle line which provided an alternative route between Brighton and London via Oxted. The line was also the only subsidiary cross-country double line in East Sussex and, as it did not figure in Southern Railway's electrification programme in the 1930s, it remained the last steam-operated line in the area.

Route of the line

The Wealden Line left Lewes from a point immediately to the east of the station, the line curving sharply north for approximately 200 yards on a short 1:60 gradient, crossing a girder bridge over goods lines and then a second bridge over Cliffe High Street. Continuing on an embankment, Lewes Viaduct carried the line over the River Ouse. The river and its tributaries were to be crossed a further seven times before the line reached Uckfield. The line then turned north-west at a point east of Hamsey village and followed a course up the valley of the river, passing the signalbox at Culver Junction (3¼ miles) where the line to Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead (now the Bluebell Railway) branched off, and rose gently to Barcombe Mills (3¾ miles), which had originally been known as Barcombe. This station was once popular with anglers who descended in large numbers on the nearby River Ouse during bank holidays.

The line then continued to Isfield (5¾ miles) before reaching Uckfield (8½ miles). The LBSCR had once planned to construct a further line passing through Uckfield, the Ouse Valley Railway, which would have connected Balcombe with Hailsham. The plan was abandoned in 1868 due to a lack of funds.

Departing Uckfield, the line continues to Buxted (10¾ miles) and then passes over Greenhurst Viaduct (10 brick arches, 185 yards) (11¾ miles), followed by Sleeches Viaduct (11 brick arches, 183 yards) one mile further on. The line then rises sharply on a 1:75 gradient and enters Crowborough Tunnel (which took its present name on 1 May 1897. Reaching Crowborough (previously known as Rotherfield until 1880, then Crowborough until 1897 and then Crowborough & Jarvis Brook) (15¼ miles), the line reaches its highest point, more than 300ft above sea level. Descending on a 1:75 gradient, the line reaches Redgate Mill Junction (17¾ miles) and then Eridge (19¼ miles). At Birchden Junction (20 miles), the line heads east passing Groombridge Junction (20¾ miles) and Groombridge (21¼ miles), rising gradually to Tunbridge Wells West (25¼ miles).

The line's heyday

The line probably enjoyed its best and most popular period in the 1930s when regular services enabled passengers to travel from Brighton Central to Tonbridge Junction, changing at Eridge for services to Eastbourne, with direct trains to London Bridge and London Victoria via East Croydon. There was also a daily through service linking with Brighton, Maidstone and Chatham in the east and Redhill and Reading in the west.

Reduction of services was necessarily during World War II, but nevertheless many extras were run, including special non-stop "workmen's trains" which operated between London, Crowborough and Jarvis Brook and Mayfield.

After the war, passenger numbers were still rising, tempted by the frequent services and competitive prices. Even in 1969, travelling by rail was cheaper than going by bus: a return rail ticket from Barcombe to Brighton costing 2 shillings, whilst the equivalent bus fare was 11 pence more expensive [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Sussex Express, 24 January 1969 | date= | publisher= | url =http://home.clara.net/wealdenline/gm_archive/exp_240169.html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-18 | language = ] .


In 1956, some years after the nationalisation of Southern Railway, the new operator, British Railways, Southern Region, having inherited a complicated and inconsistent timetabling system, moved to introduce a regular hourly service, with additional trains at peak hours. Diesel-electric units appeared on the line in 1962, running to the steam timetable.

The 1960s brought with them the spectre of change in the form of a policy favouring the construction of motorways to replace rail travel which was seen as outdated and inefficient. In 1964, new timetables were issued for the line which made travelling difficult by imposing long waits for onward connections, this policy of closure by stealth was a ploy to reduce passengers. as British Railways was by now keen to close the section from Hurst Green to Lewes.

In its last years of operation, the line saw an hourly off-peak service on weekdays and a two-hourly one on Sundays from Oxted to Lewes. During rush hours, the service was supplemented, additional trains being laid on from Victoria to Brighton via Hurst Green.

On Sunday, 23 February 1969, the last day of operation, the last trains left Lewes and Uckfield at 20.46 and 20.42 respectively. There was little public interest and no organised demonstrations took place to mark the occasion.


Uckfield - Lewes

Lewes Relief Road

The seeds of the Lewes-Uckfield closure were sown in 1964 when Stage One of the "Lewes Relief Road", a project to ease congestion in Lewes, was approved by the Conservative Minister of Transport Ernest Marples with a 75% grant towards the £350,000 costs [http://brianabbott.entadsl.com/wlc/images/AllinOneu1.pdf Wealdenlink Presentation, March 2008] ] . The works involved the construction of the Phoenix Causeway bridge to Cliffe High Street, the proposed path of which was blocked by an embankment carrying the Lewes to Uckfield line. Were the railway to remain open, another road bridge or level crossing would be required at a cost of £135,000; East Sussex County Council was also against bridging the line on the grounds of "design and amenity".

To facilitate the road scheme, the British Railways Board (BRB) applied to Parliament for authorisation to re-route the line to Lewes via the alignment which had been abandoned in 1868, the so-called "Hamsey Loop". Approval was granted by section 4 of the British Railways Act 1966 which permitted:

The new route would cost £95,000 to construct, and a request for funding was submitted to Parliament in 1966. This was turned down and the strategic function of the Uckfield line as a link to the south coast was effectively lost. BRB saw little further use for the line and applied for its abandonment.

Closure announcement

In February 1966, BRB gave notice to Barbara Castle, the new Labour Minister of Transport, under Section 54 of the Transport Act 1962 of its intention to close the line from Hurst Green junction to Lewes. Detailed memoranda were presented relating to the availability of alternative public transport, as well as statistics as to the usage of the line. The section proposed for closure had already figured in the first Beeching Report as an 'unremunerative line', i.e. one earning less than £5,000 per annum in revenue.

Pursuant to Section 56 of the 1962 Act, the Minister agreed to publication of the Notice for Closure which was duly published in September 1966, followed in December by a notice inviting objections. East Sussex County Council duly responded in February 1967 with a memorandum pointing out that closure would affect an area in which the population was likely to almost double by 1981.

Public enquiry

The number of objections received to the proposed closure was almost 3,000 and triggered the requirement under the Transport Act 1962 to hold a public enquiry at which the merits of the proposal would be examined by the South Eastern Transport Users' Consultative Committee (TUCC). This was held in April 1967.

At the enquiry objectors against closure successfully employed, for the first time, the Ministry of Transport's own cost-benefit analysis, by which the viability of new motorways was measured by calculating the "income" of the road (i.e. its benefit to users and the rest of the network in terms of saved time, fuel etc) less the costs of its construction and maintenance, to show that the closure of the line would result in 712,000 wasted travelling hours at a cost of around £570,000 per annum [cite book | last = Henshaw | first = David | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Great Railway Conspiracy | publisher = Leading Edge | year = 1994 | location = Hawes, North Yorkshire | pages = 184-185 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-9481-3548-0 ] . This figure was in stark contrast to the loss of £276,000 that British Railways was claiming the railway line was losing.

The TUCC presented their report to Barbara Castle in June 1967 and recommended against closure of the line, pointing out the "very severe hardship" which would be suffered by those who used it to travel up to London. According to the report, "these hardships could not be alleviated other than by retaining the lines proposed to be closed...This arises not from lack of alternative bus services, existing or proposed, but from the inherent advantages of the railway to those who use it"."

Reconsideration by the Minister

The TUCC report prompted the Minister to revisit her decision and she met with the BRB to determine whether alternatives existed to the closure of the entire section from Hurst Green junction to Lewes. They examined whether the necessary savings could be made by operating on a single track, rationalising the service or keeping the line open with the exception of the Lewes to Uckfield connection. The conclusion was reached that although a complete closure would involve "substantial inconvenience" rather than "outright hardship", this was outweighed by the high cost of retaining the service, including the reconstruction of the Hamsey Loop.

However, following Castle's departure from office on 6 April 1968, her successor, Richard Marsh, took the occasion to re-examine the proposed closure in the light of the Government's new policy for the organisation and financing of public transport in the London area. This was set out in the July 1968 "White Paper on Transport for London" (Cmd. 3686) which proposed that London commuter area services would be jointly-managed as a network by the BRB and the Greater London Council. Under the proposals, no subsidy would be paid by the Minister to BRB where a rail closure was refused: the loss would be taken into consideration when fixing financial objectives and levels of service.

In consultation with the BRB, Richard Marsh decided that the section from Hurst Green junction to Uckfield, as well as Eridge to Tunbridge Wells, was within the London commuter area and could be kept open. However, the line north of Uckfield would close provided that five additional bus services from Lewes and two from Uckfield were provided, together with an extra school bus from Lewes in the afternoon. [The Times, "Kent-Sussex Line may qualify for a grant", 23 August 1968, p. 2, Col. A.] As Marsh explained in a letter to BRB dated 16 August 1968, the "hardship" caused by the closure of the line north could be alleviated by the provision of buses. He invited the BRB to apply for an "unremunerative railway grant" for the rest of the line, a new subsidy which would be shortly introduced by Section 39 of the Transport Act 1968.

An unremunerative railway grant was subsequently awarded and the Minister formally refused consent to close the section from Hurst Green junction on 1 January 1969, whilst authorising closure of the 10 miles between Uckfield and Lewes as well as the section between Ashurst Junction and Groombridge Junction.

Extra bus services

Southdown Motors operated three bus services at the time: no. 19 between Newick and Lewes via Barcombe Cross, and nos. 119 and 122 between Lewes and Uckfield via the A26 with a stop at Barcombe Lane. As a condition of the Minister's consent to closure, additional bus services were laid on from August 1968. No. 122 additionally called at Isfield Station and provided an hourly service to and from Uckfield, but no. 119 departed Uckfield two minutes before the incoming rail service arrived. Barcombe Mills and Isfield stations remained open to sell tickets. However, as the buses were unable to negotiate the narrow winding road to Barcombe Mills, they stopped one mile short of the station; the BRB had laid on taxis to ferry passengers to the bus stop, but passengers first had to walk to the station to buy their tickets. [Cite book | author=Oppitz, Leslie | title=Lost Railways of Sussex (Lost Railways) | year= 2001| publisher=Countryside Books | location=Newbury, Berkshire | isbn=978-1-85306-697-9 | pages=p. 31]

The bus company applied for licences to operate the extra services beyond the closure of the line, and their applications were referred to the South East Area Traffic Commissioners whose approval for new bus services was required under the Road Traffic Act 1930.

In the meantime, the BRB announced that the last day of services between Uckfield and Lewes would be 6 January 1969 and issued a revised timetable showing the service to Lewes as withdrawn subject to the approval for the bus services. On 11 November 1968, it informed the Ministry that the new timetable would be introduced regardless of the Commissioners' decision.

A public enquiry was held on 27-28 November 1968 and 21 January 1969 at Lewes Town Hall and was chaired by Major General A.J.F. Emslie. The Commissioners were presented with evidence that those currently using the line would, instead of using the new bus services, instead switch to cars and motorcycles, thereby adding to the congestion problems at Uckfield. It was also suggested that British Rail had drawn up a timetable which was deliberately aimed at showing a loss on the line [cite news | title=Sussex Express, 6 December 1968 | url =http://home.clara.net/wealdenline/gm_archive/exp_061268.html | accessdate = 2007-09-18 ] .Among the objectors to the scheme was East Sussex County Council whose Major J.H. Pickering of the Council's Roads and Bridges Committee, speaking on his own account, made the point that "the Minister had ignored the undisputed and rapid growth of population in the area affected by the proposed bus service", the population having increased by 5,000 in three years and was expected to reach 10,000 in the following five years. Crowborough was also expanding at a similar rate.

The grant of new licences was rejected by the Commissioners on the basis of: (i) the lack of services to Barcombe Mills station - passengers were obliged to walk one mile to the bus stop, (ii) the poor off-peak train/bus connections at Uckfield and (iii) traffic congestion at peak times in Tonbridge and Lewes which had a serious effect on bus timings at Uckfield [ cite web|url=http://home.clara.net/wealdenline/gm_archive/hackel_700409.html |title=Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, 9 April 1970 |accessdate=2007-09-18 ] .

The refusal prompted the BRB to review their closure plans. Its timetabling announcements had been criticised by the Commissioners as giving the impression that a decision on the line's future had been taken before their enquiry was over. The Commissioners' concerns were nevertheless met, and authorisation for the bus services was given on 31 March 1969. The last day of operations for the Uckfield - Lewes section would be 6 May 1969.

Lewes Viaduct

Another element in the closure decision was the condition of Lewes Viaduct. The Ministry of Transport had been advised in 1964 by their Divisional Road Engineer that the condition of Lewes Viaduct would entail high maintenance costs in the near future. In June 1965, the Engineer reported again that the bridges and viaduct on the line between Barcombe Mills and Lewes were in need of expensive repairs. A speed limit of 10mph was introduced on the viaduct in September 1967. In March 1968, BRB informed the Ministry that unless the section of line between Lewes and the start of the Hamsey Loop could be eliminated by the end of the year, either by rebuilding the Hamsey Loop or by closing the line, emergency remedial work would be required.

On 13 December 1968, BRB's engineers held a meeting at the viaduct. On 16 December BRB announced that, for safety reasons and as a short-term measure, only the down line could be used by a shuttle service and a revised timetable was introduced to reflect this. On 23 February 1969, this service ceased and was replaced by an emergency bus service.


Once the line closed, the embankment carrying the line was then demolished and construction of the Phoenix Causeway completed in Summer 1969. The remaining bridges from Lewes station to Cliffe High Street and the Viaduct over the River Ouse were also demolished. Stages two and three of the Lewes Relief Road project were later scrapped, the Council preferring instead to link up with the town's new bypass via Cuilfail Tunnel. In 1974, after the powers granted by the British Railways Act 1966 to construct a line along the alternative alignment had expired, East Sussex County Council agreed to safeguard the trackbed against development. A recent report by the Environment Agency noted the detrimental effect the Phoenix Causeway had on the town as it blocked the floodplain, thereby contributing greatly to the floods of October 2000 [ Citation| first=Environment Agency | last=| coauthors=| contribution=Flood Report: March 2001| title=Environment Agency| date=March 2001| year=2001| contribution-url=http://www.lewes.gov.uk/Files/env_floodreport.doc| format=DOC| accessdate=2007-09-15 ] .

The merits of the Uckfield-Lewes closure were debated on several occasions in Parliament following closure. In particular, it was argued that the line would have provided a valuable alternative route to the Brighton Main Line when that line was out of action, as was the case on 16 December 1972 when a collision between two passenger trains at Copyhold Junction closed the line for over a month. Lord Teviot referred to this incident when calling for the reinstatement of the line in the House of Lords on 20 May 1974. It was estimated that costs of reinstatement would be in the region of £2 million, together with an additional revenue subsidy of £170,000 per year. [cite news | title=HL Deb 20 May 1974 vol 351 cc1301-12. | url =http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1974/may/20/british-rail-the-brighton-line#column_1301 | accessdate = 2008-05-30 ]

John Peyton, the Conservative Minister for Transport Industries, confirmed on 5 February 1973 that the powers granted by the British Railways Act 1966 in respect of the Hamsey Loop had expired on 31 December 1972. [cite news | title=HC Deb 05 February 1973 vol 850 c36W | url =http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1973/feb/05/hamsey-loop-railway#column_36w | accessdate = 2008-05-30 ]

Eridge to Tunbridge Wells

Following a total lack of investment for decades, it was discovered in the early 1980s that the track and signalling between Eridge and Tunbridge Wells needed to be replaced. British Rail, at the time carrying out an upgrade of the Tonbridge to Hastings Line which involved the removal of Grove Junction, decided that the costs of keeping the line from Eridge open and undertaking the works, some £175,000, did not justify the outlay. It therefore announced the closure of the line (including Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells West stations) from 16 May 1983. The Secretary of State for Transport rubber stamped the decision with effect from 6 July 1985, although it did not actually close until 10 August when the depot at the West station was shut. [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/t/tunbridge_wells_west/index.shtml Subterranea Britannica] ] The line had, since 1971, been served by only an hourly shuttle.


Lavender Line

In 1983, Isfield Station together with a length of trackbed were purchased by an enthusiast who planned to restore and re-open the station. The project could not be finished and the property passed in 1991 to the Lavender Line, a preservation society, which took over and beautifully restored the station. The society have also restored the track to the north of Isfield.

Spa Valley Railway

The Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society was formed shortly after the closure of the section of the line between Eridge and Tunbridge Wells with the intention to re-open the connection. They managed to purchase the line and trains were again running by 1996, the line being known as The Spa Valley Railway. The line now extends for a distance of 4 miles from Tunbridge Wells West to Groombridge, and the intention is to extend as far as Eridge.

Wealden Line Campaign

1986 - 1996

Launched in 1986, the Wealden Line Campaign is seeking the full restoration of services between Lewes and Tunbridge Wells, with eventual electrification. The scheme has received the support of the respective MPs for Lewes and Wealden, Norman Baker and Charles Hendry, who have both made repeated calls in the House of Commons for the re-opening of the line.

In February 1987, Network SouthEast agreed to contribute £1.5 million to a scheme to reinstate the Lewes to Uckfield Line, a quarter of its projected cost. The scheme floundered in the face of a lack of funding from other sources, both the Kent County Council and East Sussex County Council proving to be "uncooperative" on this score [cite book | last = Henshaw | first = David | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = op. cit. | publisher = | date = | location = | pages = p. 251 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ] .

In 1996, a feasibility study was commissioned by the Kent County Council into the re-opening of the Tunbridge Wells to Eridge section of the line. The report, prepared by Mott Macdonald, found in favour of reopening the line, concluding that "at a reinstatement cost of £20-25 million such a long-term reinstatement facility (which might substitute for more expensive road infrastructure elsewhere) might be considered a relatively cheap option" [ cite web|url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmhansrd/vo980729/debtext/80729-10.htm |title=House of Commons, Hansard Debates, 29 July 1998 |accessdate=2007-09-18 ] . The project made no progress.

1997 - 2008

In 2002, the Department of Transport, upon the advice of the Strategic Rail Authority stated that the costs of electrification of the line from Uckfield to Hurst Green "far outweigh the benefits", but the situation would be kept under review [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=House of Commons, Written Answers, 9 July 2002 | date= | publisher= | url =http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2002-07-09.67943.h | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-17 | language = ] .

To take the case for reinstatement forward, a "Central Rail Corridor Board" was set up in 2004, with members from regional, county and district levels, local MPs and Southern. The Board, led by East Sussex County Council, oversees the development of initiatives to explore the feasibility of reinstatement and provide guidance on the political, planning and transport policy framework. A free scoping study was prepared by a consortium of transport and engineering consultants who recommended in March 2005 that there were sufficient grounds for proceeding to a full feasibility study at a cost of £150,000, the funding for which was provided by numerous local authorities in the area [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Lewes District Council: Report on Reinstatement of the Lewes-Uckfield Line | date= | publisher= | url =http://www.lewes.gov.uk/Files/cabinet_060330_LewesUckRailLine.doc | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-17 | language = |format=DOC] .

On 14 June 2007, members of the Campaign met with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Tom Harris, who agreed to consider the results of the feasibility study [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=BBC News: "Fresh hope of railway reopening" | date= | publisher= | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/sussex/6753271.stm | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-17 | language = ] . As Tom Harris later revealed to Parliament, the Campaign Members proposed a public-private partnership which "would mean, in essence, that the Department for Transport would not have to put its hand in its pocket for the capital costs or for revenue costs following resumption of services on the line"." [ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080521/halltext/80521h0010.htm#08052164000547 House of Commons Hansard Debates, 21 May 2008, Column 134WH] ] The financial viability of the proposals would be tested by the feasibility study, and the Minister indicated that some investment would have to be forthcoming from the Campaign.

Network Rail have also pledged to consider the results of the study and "investigate all possible commercial avenues for the line reopening". The study, which is to be overseen by Network Rail, was due to commence in September, but in the event was delayed until January 2008; the costs of the report, which are estimated to be in the region of £130,000 to £140,000, will be met by the Central Rail Corridor Board. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/7169592.stm BBC News,"Railway route study gets go-ahead", 3 January 2008.] ]

In March 2008 the Wealden Line campaign launched "Wealdenlink - Capacity Solutions for Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London", a presentation outlining the benefits of reinstatement which aims to give new impetus to the project at a critical moment. [ [http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/Case-made-for-reopening-rail.3890106.jp Sussex Express, "Case made for reopening rail link", 18 March 2008.] ]

2008 feasibility study

The reinstatement feasibility study was originally scheduled for publication on 23 May 2008 [ [http://www.thisiscourier.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=142759&command=displayContent&sourceNode=142742&contentPK=20743492&moduleName=InternalSearch&formname=sidebarsearch Kent & Sussex Courier, "£100m Rail Project Delayed", 30 May 2008.] ] , but was eventually released in summary form on 23 July accompanied by a press release by East Sussex County Council [cite press release|url=http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil/pressoffice/pressreleases/2008/07/2058.htm|title=Issued on behalf of the Central Rail Corridor Board: Rail study report concludes that reinstatement is not economically viable|author=East Sussex County Council|date=2008-07-23|accessdate=2008-08-21] . In essence, the report said that whilst reinstatement is technically feasible, it would not be economically viable. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/sussex/7521126.stm BBC News, "Railway line defeat 'just a blip'", 23 July 2008.] ]

The full report disclosed that the costs of reinstatement were £7.4m for a single track line (incorporating intermediate stations at Isfield and Barcombe Mills) and £38.8m for double track. In terms of the extra custom which the reopened route could bring, it was estimated that between 1,500 to 2,000 trips per day (450,000 to 620,000 trips per annum) would be generated by a variety of routes including London-Uckfield-Eastbourne and London-Uckfield-Newhaven fast services. The majority of trips would, however, be to existing stations on the Uckfield Line and the new routes would only encourage a 2% growth for existing lines due to the longer journey time to the south coast as compared with the Brighton Main Line. The benefit of the reinstated line as a diversionary route was also judged negligible due to the low occurrence of total closures on the Brighton line.

With regard to the actual business case for the line, the ratio between estimated operating costs and potential earnings revealed that four out of six routes on the new line would make a profit. In particular, a service to Lewes without intermediate stops at Barcombe and Isfield would bring in £3,707m at a cost of £2,276m, giving a ratio of 1.63. Nevertheless, after applying the Department for Transport's criteria for calculating the cost-benefit ratio, all six routes showed a negative economic net present value. This, the report explained, was due to the "low level of demand for the reopened route", and increased car ownership since the 1960s. In order to prove a business case for Uckfield - Lewes, there needs to be "a significant increase in the size of the population along the line and/or a fundamental shift in the travelling population of the existing population"." [cite web|url=http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/roadsandtransport/roads/roadschemes/rail/default.htm|author=East Sussex County Council|title=Lewes-Uckfield rail link|date=2008-08-04|accessdate=2008-08-21]




External links

* [http://www.wealdenlink.org.uk/ Wealden Link Website]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/b/barcombe_mills/index.shtml Barcombe Mills railway station on Subterranea Britannica]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/i/isfield/index.shtml Isfield railway station on Subterranea Britannica]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/e/eridge/index.shtml Eridge railway station on Subterranea Britannica]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/g/groombridge/index.shtml Groombridge railway station on Subterranea Britannica]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/h/high_rocks_halt/index.shtml High Rocks railway station on Subterranea Britannica]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/t/tunbridge_wells_west/index.shtml Tunbridge Wells West railway station on Subterranea Britannica]
* [http://home.clara.net/wealdenline/ Wealden Line Campaign]
* [http://www.lavender-line.co.uk/ The Lavender Line]
* [http://www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk/ Spa Valley Railway]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/331350 Photograph of the Phoenix Causeway]

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  • Wealden — GeographyWealden District covers two main upland areas: the section of the High Weald within East Sussex; and the eastern end of the South Downs, between which lies the Vale of Sussex. The River Ouse, some of the tributaries of which originate in …   Wikipedia

  • Oxted Line — The Oxted Lines, shown with other railway lines in South London, Surrey, Kent and East Sussex. Overview Type Commuter rail, Suburban rail …   Wikipedia

  • East Coastway Line — East Coastway is the name used by the train operating company, Southern (formerly South Central Trains), for the routes it operates along the south coast of Sussex and Kent to the east of Brighton, England. Those to the West of Brighton are named …   Wikipedia

  • Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line — The Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line was a railway line running from Three Bridges (on the Brighton Main Line) in West Sussex to Tunbridge Wells Central in Kent via East Grinstead in East Sussex, a distance of… …   Wikipedia

  • Lavender Line — The Lavender Line is a heritage railway currently based at Isfield Station, near Uckfield in East Sussex. History The Lavender Line formed part of the Lewes to Uckfield Railway when it was opened on the 18 October 1858. Within 12 months of its… …   Wikipedia

  • East Coastway Line — Brighton–Hastings/Seaford/Eastbourne Spurweite: 1435 mm (Normalspur) Legende …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cuckoo Line — Coordinates: 50°49′52″N 0°15′11″E / 50.831°N 0.253°E / 50.831; 0.253 …   Wikipedia

  • Hawkhurst Branch Line — Locale Kent, England Dates of operation 1892–1961 Track gauge …   Wikipedia

  • Cranleigh Line — [v · d · …   Wikipedia

  • Isfield — Infobox UK place official name=Isfield Civil Parish country=England region=South East England static static image caption= area footnotes=cite web |url=http://www.eastsussexinfigures.org.uk/webview/ |title=East Sussex in Figures |accessdate=2008… …   Wikipedia

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