Consultant WSP is urging major towns and business groups south of London to join forces and campaign for investment in the Brighton Main Line (BML) to avert a capacity crisis and aid economic growth.
Network Rail’s 2011 Route Utilisation Study for the BML acknowledged significant overcrowding due to passenger growth.
This year’s Sussex Route Strategy, published in January, predicted a 30% rise in passenger numbers on the BML into London.
Planned upgrade work along the route is currently limited to power and signalling improvements and adding one platform at Gatwick and Redhill stations.
WSP has carried out its own study of the BML and recommended a series of immediate measures and a long term package of improvements beyond what Network Rail currently has planned for the route.
“Our rail team has worked on the BML so we are aware that a capacity crisis is likely,” said WSP head of rail planning Ian Brooker.
“We want to raise the potential for a major route upgrade and we are calling for stakeholders to pull together and shout about this with one voice,”
“Network Rail has launched a new long term national planning process starting with four market study consultations. One of these is dedicated to London and the South East and is expected to feed into new long term route studies” he added.
“There is real opportunity here for stakeholders to tell Network Rail what is needed,” Brooker said.
“The issue here is that the BML route is already running beyond capacity with a lot of passenger growth coming along the route.
“It’s not just about a rail project. This is about economic regeneration for an area with huge potential for growth.
“The BML needs a sensible long term rail strategy and stakeholders need to get behind it, or there is a real risk of going to the back of the queue which would seriously harm growth in the south east.”