Train services to Uckfield: Time for a third rail?

Uckfield train services are the new ‘misery line’

Comment by Observer

I eagerly scoured this week’s list of most overcrowded train services expecting to see an Uckfield Line service “top of the league”.

Time after time – if my experiences are anything to go by – the Southern services to and from London Bridge put in championship-winning performances.

Up services are often standing room only from Crowborough and passengers are left on the platforms at stations further north, especially when a service is – as the rail company puts it – “short formed”.

Homebound evening services are equally packed with latecomers at London Bridge having to force themselves aboard or stand forlornly on the platform as the train pulls out.

Train services worse than ‘can of sardines’

For some reason, the Uckfield line did not warrant a mention in the reports I saw of overcrowding with a Euston to Crewe service taking the crown.

Figures from the Department for Transport were described as a “one-off snapshot” so may not be an accurate guide to daily overcrowding.

Uckfield line services go from pretty uncomfortable to worse than a can of sardines when the regular number of carriages are not provided (short-formed); usually because of break-downs.

You would expect Southern to have a few “spare” diesels to plug any gaps but sadly that is not the case. The Uckfield Line is one of only two non-electrified lines in this area that I can think of and suffers as a consequence. Every diesel train appears to be deployed every day.

We are told more diesels will  eventually come south once electrification is completed around northern conurbations. However, there is a pressure to keep those train-sets in the north because of overcrowded services in that area.

Electrification or more diesels

What about building some more diesel rolling stock? There is a deathly silence on that issue.

My solution: electrify the line from Hurst Green to Uckfield. Some say it should be with overhead wires but I would go with the third rail system used elsewhere in the south. We have enough problems as it is being the “odd one out” – overhead wires will only continue that problem.

The c2c Thameside service through Essex was once called “the misery line”. Its fortunes have been transformed.

Can the rail authorities put us out of our misery on the Uckfield Line.


I see last week’s comment about the lack of a town-wide invite to a meeting to discuss the roadworks planned between the Framfield Road traffic lights and the lights near Boots touched a chord with many.

On the Uckfield News Facebook page people living and working in the affected area said they were not invited and one suggested the meeting was invitation-only because of fears of a backlash.

My thoughts entirely.

See also:

‘Fracking possible north of Uckfield’, meeting told

Ridley family takes on the Highlands Inn

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