Following on from that here’s a short update on the proposals from the BML2 campaign group themselves, who encouragingly tell us the study conducted by WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, was delivered to the DfT during the spring, and since then Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has said publication would be “this autumn” and was confident it would be positive.
The route below shows the new line in blue which will create a new railway tunnel through London linking Stratford to Lewisham.
I asked BML2 whether they thought the plans would ever be realised. This is what they had to say:
Most definitely – and for a number of reasons. In railway operational terms, more trains need to be operated into London. Fewer and narrower seats with more standing area, as installed in the new GTR Thameslink trains, provide a limited increase in passenger-carrying capacity. However, the underlying problem remains – lack of track space to run more services – and all these new trains have to use the existing restricted network.
BML2 reintroduces two former main lines into the network – one to Brighton and the Sussex Coast; the other to Tunbridge Wells. Both are sorely-needed to relieve the Brighton and Tonbridge main lines which are already unable to cope with over-demand.
The catalyst is the hugely valuable under-used/disused rail corridor between Selsdon (Croydon) and Lewisham, including a new tunnelled link connecting to Canary Wharf and Stratford. This in itself would extract vast amounts of congestion (London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, Liverpool Street) because commuters both north and south of the Thames would be able to access Docklands, Canary Wharf, etc, without travelling via central London.
In commercial and investment terms, this rail project offers considerable value for money. Indeed, one London Authority strategic planner told us he believed BML2 was “much cheaper to deliver with more tangible economics gains” than HS2. Nothing regenerates a region or locality more than a new railway. Land and property values will inevitably increase along the corridor, with this effect felt mostly in London. Railways benefit everyone and BML2 will bring growth, jobs and opportunity. Any politician who cannot appreciate this really shouldn’t be in power.
Another enormously important facet of BML2 is its ability to give Gatwick airport fast, direct access to Canary Wharf and East London. The Howard Davies Report heavily marked-down the airport for having no direct connections east of Blackfriars/Farringdon. As with Stansted, we gain the ability to operate unified dedicated fast shuttle services connecting these major London airports going right through expanding East London.
Interest in BML2 has rocketed this year and, although it’s not possible to reveal anything specific for a while longer, we have investors giving it serious attention. So for the moment it’s a case of watch this space.