Connecting Crowborough to the South Coast & Tunbridge Wells


A 50 year struggle to re-open the Lewes to Uckfield Railway Line has taken a significant step forward, following a submission to the Restore Your Railway fund earlier this year.

If completed, the scheme would allow passengers from Crowborough to travel to Brighton, Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells by train.

The Department for Transport invited MPs, local councils and community groups to propose how they could reinstate axed local services and restore closed stations.

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield and the Brighton Main Line 2 campaign submitted a business case in March setting-out costs, the level of support locally, and the potential growth that could come from reopened lines.

Although the Uckfield – Lewes line proposal was not among the ten receiving funding in the first round of the Ideas Fund. The Minister has written to Maria Caulfield and her fellow MPs to ask for the bid to be developed further to understand the best route forward.

Encouragingly, the Transport Minister has told BML2: 

We are ready to work with you on how best to take this project to the next stage and invite you to discuss the next steps with officials.

Brighton Main Line 2 route map - showing the Sussex, Kent and London phases of the scheme.

Both Sussex and Kent phases of BML2 will be taken forward. The London phase is in abeyance being due to its magnitude and substantial cost.

Campaigners say that around £800m the scheme is well within the £48 billion the Government have made available for investment in the railways.

The Sussex phase requires reopening the seven-mile ‘missing link’ between Uckfield & Lewes and the construction of a tunnel beneath the South Downs to enable direct trains into Brighton.

The Kent phase would see the re-instatement of rail services to Tunbridge Wells (and onward to Tonbridge and London) via route used by the Spa Valley Railway and using the Grove Tunnel under the southern edge of the spa town.

The closure of the Uckfield to Lewes line was not a ‘Beeching cut’ as most people assume. In fact it was to do with the Lewes Relief Road and the construction of Phoenix Causeway bridge.

Unblocking the Croydon bottleneck. Proposed East Croydon station - indicative view of the main entrance (photo Network Rail)

In a further dramatic development, Network Rail has announced proposals to relocate East Croydon station to create two more platforms and enable greater capacity. This notorious bottleneck has hindered returning the Uckfield branch to its main line status.

You can have your say on the proposals here Unblocking the Croydon bottleneck – Network Rail.



To make sure you are among the first to know what is going on in Crowborough - SUBSCRIBE to receive our email Newsletter.

Please click for more info.


  1. Closure of the Lewes to Uckfield line was ill-judged and should not have been allowed. Re-opening this vital link will ease travel to London from the South Coast giving a second option. A third option to bypass the Ouse Valley Viaduct is available: Haywards Heath > Copyhold Jct > Ardingly > Horsted Keynes > East Grinstead. Closure of the Ardingly corridor was also ill-judged. This will ease the bottleneck which is the Ouse Valley Viaduct being only twin tracked, old, brick-built and potentially hazardous therefore.

  2. In an age where we are actively trying to get cars off the road to reduce pollution this makes absolute sense. If I could jump on a train to Tunbridge Well, or Eastbourne or Lewes or Brighton I would happily forgo the car journey. The extra access to London via Tunbridge Wells can only be a good thing.

  3. Is this just another debate or is it something that is really going to happen? To my knowledge similar proposals have been discussed since the the mid 1970’s. How certain can we be that this time some positive action will take place in the NEAR future?

  4. I think the reopening of the line would be fantastic but I’m unsure why there is such a nostalgic need to adhere to the old route, life has moved on. The scale of the infrastructure required to bypass Lewes to get to Brighton will always be financially prohibitive.

    How about this for a much simpler and cheaper concept that also has the benefit of conforming to the Governments housing policy.

    The line from Lewes is redirected to Hailsham and then joins the Eastbourne to Lewes line somewhere between Berwick and Glynde. The junction can have a spur that allows access to both Lewes (and therefore Brighton) and Eastbourne. With the enormous housing development at Hailsham it ‘demands’ a railway station again and the entire route is through open fields and pretty much on the level. It will achieve all the economic benefits in the report plus more by connecting in Hailsham and for much less cost.

Share Your Views