The car park being built by Network Rail should be the base for workers, says our columnist, Observer

Uckfield platform plan is all wrong, says Observer

Network Rail’s idea of putting a road across part of the Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve has gone down like a lead balloon in some quarters.

You cannot be surprised that people take umbrage at the idea of heavy lorries and equipment going over such a sensitive area, writes Observer.

I see some on Uckfield Town Council thought the compensation offered was low. Well, £5,000 certainly is low for building a temporary road across a piece of land that should be regarded as priceless. Council report here

The issue seems to be pitched by Network Rail as the nature reserve versus the people who live and work in Mill Lane.

In my opinion, it is not one or the other: it’s none. For some reason Network Rail cannot see the most obvious solution that is as plain as a pikestaff to any reasonable person.The platform at Uckfield will be extended by about 48m

First rule in my line of work is to use your own people and your own resources for anything that is likely to be tricky, awkward and difficult to deliver. We don’t contract out if we sense rough going ahead.

Your own staff can be more easily managed and will adapt to the difficult circumstances.

Network Rail should explore two solutions.

1. Move the materials in by rail and lift them off the wagons with a crane that is part of the special rail delivery.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find a “path” into Uckfield to bring all the kit, even if it does mean starting a Sunday service from Crowborough. (After all, Southern has plenty of experience of starting Uckfield Line trains from Crowborough.)

That’s how they used to do these jobs but I suppose all that knowledge and equipment has been lost in the miasma of privatisation.

2. If rail delivery is truly out of the question, the solution is still in Network Rail’s hands. It is building a huge new car park opposite the station. What’s wrong with setting up the worker’s camp there? I can’t see the car park being full from day one.

And if they want, they still have the existing small car park to the side of the station building. I know that is planned as a drop-off/collection point and a taxi rank, but needs must.

Materials can be moved down the platform; after all the trains are an hour apart (sometimes two!) so there will not be many people waiting for a train most of the time.Looking along the length of the platform at Uckfield

Network Rail has no need to use the nature reserve or Mill Lane and Uckfield Town Council should send them away with a flea in their ear and not risk any possible damage to the nature reserve.

I’m not sure what the people in Mill Lane can do.  The route is unsuitable. As far as I can see, the parking goes with the businesses. The lane is also a busy pedestrian route between the town centre and Newtown.

Network Rail should start again and work with its own assets.

Original story here

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