Work to extend the platform at Uckfield railway station could be completed next year.
Network Rail is planning how to carry out the task and appears to be “future-proofing” the scheme to accommodate up to 12-car electric trains.
It is seeking to access the site across a corner of the Uckfield Town Council-owned Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve.
Network Rail has given the town council examples from other locations where it has successfully operated across sensitive ecological areas.
Town councillors are due to make a decision on Monday (February 16).
They are told in a written report from Network Rail: “We will be extending the platform at Uckfield station by approximately 48m to accommodate the longer 10-car trains, and in fact it will also accommodate a 12-car electric train, should the line be electrified in the future.”
It states two options for site access have been considered.
One was to access the site via Mill Lane and set up a compound in a private overflow car park behind the site of the platform extension, or to set up the compound in the Waitrose car park and access the site via Hempstead Meadow.
“Access via Mill Lane would require strengthening or replacement of the two bridges in the site before our works begin, and establishment of our site compound in the overflow car park alongside the railway boundary.
“Some of the deliveries to site will be made by lorry, and so we would need to make arrangements with the Citroen garage on the corner of the main road, and also those parking on Mill Lane itself, to not park in the Lane when deliveries by lorry are due.
“While we do make every effort to cause as little disruption as possible when working near businesses and residential properties, in our experience any increase in activity in such an area can upset some people.
“In an effort to avoid disruption if at all possible, we are requesting permission to access the site via Hempstead Meadow. We are currently in negotiation with Waitrose with regards to using some parking bays for the site compound,” the report says.
Network Rail proposes at Hempstead Meadows putting in a 5m wide access road starting at the exiting gate access within the Waitrose car park and running alongside the railway line for 125m.
The road would be in a bramble-covered area and would be built-up level with the railway.
The Network Rail report states how it would minimise the impact on ecology, protect a culvert and how it would deal with any potential flooding.
It also details proposals for site safety.
On completion of the project, Network Rail will carry out “full reinstatement” of the disturbed areas.
“The recycled aggregate used on the access road will be removed from site and disposed of at a licensed facility. The topsoil removed at the start of the works will be replaced and seeded to your (the town council’s) specification. The railway boundary fence will also be reinstated.
“In addition to this, we will be happy to carry out additional work as may be required by the Hempstead Meadow trustees, including the provision of new benches, planting of trees or other flora, or contribution towards a raised walkway through the meadow,” the report says.
A timetable shows that it is proposed to get work under way in early to mid-July and for everything to be cleared away by the end of March next year.
Network Rail is also offering £5,000 towards future improvements of Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve or for use on other nearby sites.
*The extension of the platform is part of a wider scheme on the line between Uckfield and Hurst Green to extend all platforms