About 60 people went along to a drop-in session in Uckfield yesterday to learn more about a Network Rail project to extend the town’s railway station platform.
Among them were residents and commuters who were able to ask questions and see computer-generated images of platform extensions at stations along the line between Edenbridge Town and Uckfield, writes Jacob White.
There are 12 platforms at eight stations and some have to be doubled in length. Extensions range in length between 56 metres at Uckfield and 115 metres as at Buxted.
The aim is to accommodate ten-carriage trains which will increase morning peak capacity by 50% to help ease crowding and meet growing passenger demand.
At yesterday’s drop-in session which was held at Uckfield Civic Centre Robert Sue, commercial scheme supervisor for Network Rail, said: “We will try to limit disruption but it is inevitable.”
Network Rail says it has established a programme of work that will cause the least disruption to passengers and residents including a work schedule involving off-peak and late evening line closures from Hurst Green to Uckfield in two four week blocks, a seven week full line closure South of Crowborough and some weekend closures.
Dates for closures can be seen here: Uckfield Line rail closures – change of dates.
During the line closures a comprehensive rail replacement bus service will operate connecting with trains at Oxted during the off-peak closures and Crowborough during the all day closures. Southern advise a detailed plan is being put together.
Works on the line will start in September at some sites and in the New Year for others with stations completed on a staggered basis between February and July 2016.
Among those in attendance at the meeting were:
Mr Povey, added: “Credit for putting something together but is the service resilient enough? I will have to allow an extra hour for my journey to London.”
Claire Howarth, a commuter from Uckfield, said: “As a member of the commuter community I want to have confidence in this project.’
“Just last week I had four delay and repay scheme applications and the thought of two to three months concerns me. I am an early commuter out of London of an evening, the first train in fact so I am worried what that will be like.”
Chris Jennings, major programmes interface manager at Southern Railway said that passengers would not be entitled to delay and repay payments as the works are pre-planned works.
After earlier ecological concerns and potential intrusion to the nature reserve at Hempstead Fields, town councillor Paul Meakin said: “Residents are delighted Network Rail have come to a sensible decision and an alternative method so as not to damage the nature reserve.’
Cllr Meakin, added: “I am encouraged that there will be limited traffic disruption and noise will be minimal. This is a very ambitious project and I wish Network Rail well.”
James Banks, media relations manager for Network Rail said: “We would like to thank all of those people who took the time to come and find out more about the Uckfield platform extension programme.’
“Around 60 people came to meet representatives from Network Rail, Southern Railways and BAM Nuttall.’
“We hope that the evening helped to explain the project and the benefits it will bring to thousands of commuters.”
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