Three key improvements to the Uckfield rail line are being called for by a group representing town and parish councils along the line.
Calls for more capacity, better reliability and speedier services have gone to the companies it believes most likely to be bidding to run the franchise in the future.
The Uckfield Line Parishes Committee has written to five companies it believes most likely to bid for the franchise which includes the lines from Hurst Green to Uckfield.
It has told MTR, Govia, Abellio, First Group and Stageocach that priority needs for passengers are:
- “The provision of more capacity on the severely overcrowded peak hour trains at the earliest opportunity (we understand our line is the second most crowded on the Southern network).The practice of running short-formed trains must be minimised. It is believed that if the rail industry cannot provide the required capacity with diesel trains then early electrification should be implemented.
- An improvement in reliability and a speedier service throughout the day. (The services presently suffer from delays and short workings, leading to non-arrivals and consequential non- departures affecting the southern part of the line in particular).
- The continuance of the through services to and from London Bridge throughout the length of the franchise.”
Line south of Uckfield to the coast
The committee also believes it is important that during the franchise period the operator works closely with Network Rail and other partners to “early future resumption of passenger services through the Weald from Uckfield to Lewes and the South Coast.”
In a statement the committee said it believed this would lead to great benefits for passengers, growth in the economy and reduced emissions throughout the area.
‘Time to grasp the nettle’
“It is also understood that there will be significant operational and maintenance advantages and net savings to the rail industry itself when the link is restored,” the statement said.
Ian Smith, of Uckfield, the committee chairman, said: “The time has come for all those who run the railways to grasp the nettle they have long avoided. Capacity problems and exponential growth along the Uckfield Line and on the Brighton to London line mean that reconnection of Uckfield to Lewes and a new line direct into Brighton are both irresistible”