Croydon Council’s campaign for vital upgrades to train lines connecting London and the south coast has been endorsed by a government-commissioned study released this week.
Published by the DfT, The London and South Coast Rail Corridor Study supports the council’s calls for urgent improvements to the Brighton Main Line in the East Croydon area, highlighting the need for Government to act quickly to secure land in the rapidly developing borough.
The study recommends considerable upgrades which would increase the number of trains into central London per hour, reducing over-crowding and resulting in significant improvements to the service. The first phase ‘core’ projects would include addressing the bottleneck that is East Croydon Station whilst also delivering the new station central Croydon desperately needs. These initial improvements would allow an extra two trains to London Bridge and to Victoria and ultimately – depending on the pace of investment – there could be up to 55% more fast trains between Croydon and the three London bridges and 45% more trains between Croydon and central London.
Cllr Newman, leader of Croydon Council, has lobbied for improvements to Croydon’s rail links, specifically the Brighton Main Line, to be considered a priority for investment from the Government’s emergency £300m rail improvement fund. In recent representations to secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling MP, he emphasised Croydon’s regional significance as an economic centre, and the need for urgent investment in the rail service to support the borough’s plans for growth.
Responding to Cllr Newman as the study was published, Mr Grayling said that Government ‘understands and supports’ Croydon’s growth ambitions and agreed that it must be served by rail links that provide ‘sufficient capacity and reliability.”
In response to the study, the government has said it will ask Network Rail to confirm the study’s finding that the Brighton Main Line upgrade could be delivered for £1.2-£1.5bn and that sufficient passenger benefits would be delivered to justify public investment. Further announcements, including the government’s decision on whether to progress the scheme, are expected in 2017. The response in full can be read here.
“We are pleased that the government is listening to Croydon on this issue and that the minister supports our ambitions for Croydon’s growth. We welcome this as far as it goes, but government needs to commit to fund this in full as soon as possible and Croydon will continue to work with partners to realise this. Croydon is hugely significant both as a major transport hub connecting London with the south coast and as a centre for economic growth, and the rail network, specifically the Brighton Main Line, is core to the prosperity of not only our town but the region. The study commissioned by the DfT identifies improvements to the Brighton Main Line as a clear priority. We are committed and on track to delivering our ambitious plans for Croydon under a government-funded agreement to be a growth zone – 10,000 new homes, 23,500 new jobs, plus 5,300 new construction jobs – but we must have the rail infrastructure to support them. ”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council
Cllr Stuart King, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “For some time the Brighton Main Line has been in urgent need of improvement, and this need will increase as the town gathers pace on its journey of growth and regeneration. There is a clear need to act now, both to improve the current reliability and quality of the Brighton Main Line service, which is already overcrowded, and to ensure the area is served by the rail links it will need in the future. This study is a positive development and we will continue to press government for a commitment that it will fund these vital improvements.”