Note this from the article:
The DfT warns that bidders cannot run any more services on the Brighton Line, saying: “The total number of trains on the predominantly two-track section between Balcombe Tunnel Junction (south of Three Bridges) and Keymer Junction (north of Burgess Hill) should not be increased as this would significantly increase the risk that the train service becomes unreliable.”
Instead, the DfT will specify the amount of [jam-packed] Brighton Line trains that will run, merely allowing the bidders to tinker with the stopping patterns. This effectively means there will be a cap on train travel between the Sussex Coast and London. We know that operators see a market to run more trains, but they can’t because the south’s rail network is inadequate.
In regard to Gatwick the DfT is extremely weak and evidently lost for answers, it says: “The Government believes good connectivity with our major airports is essential. If possible we would like to see improvements in these services. However, whether we can deliver such improvements depends on affordability and on striking the right balance between the needs of air passengers and those of commuters in relation to how we use limited capacity on lines which are amongst the busiest in the country.”
Only last week Gatwick bosses again urged the need for better rail links as they want more people to use public transport, whilst their plans to increase capacity are limited by the railway.
I write as an individual living in Tunbridge Wells. I am a regular traveller by rail to destinations including Ashford (Kent), London (London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Cannon Street), Chelmsford, Oxford, Cambridge, Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Telford, Falmer and Brighton.
The Thameslink service from London Bridge to Kings Cross/St Pancras is invaluable for my journeys from the latter two stations. The journey to Oxford requires changing to the Underground at Charing Cross, thence to Paddington. When the new line is opened to Oxford, via Bicester, it would be convenient if I could travel via Thameslink to West Hampstead and connect with a Marylebone-Oxford service. Clearly this will require construction of platforms on the Chiltern Line at West Hampstead. Should this be done (together with platforms on the Metropolitan line), it would make West Hampstead an even more important interchange hub and open up a wide range of new travel opportunities.
I think studies should be undertaken to determine the viability of re-opening the Bedford-Northampton line and extending Thameslink trains via this route to Rugby.
My journeys to Falmer and Brighton are usually undertaken by car, for the simple reason it is far quicker than the bus service or the three rail routes (via London Bridge, or St Leonards or the Tonbridge-Redhill route). It takes two hours by public transport to Brighton whichever mode or route is taken. The re-opening of the Uckfield-Lewes link and the line from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells would reduce the journey time considerably as well as opening up travel opportunities between West Kent and Brighton. A recent report on Tunbridge Wells town centre development recommended these lines be re-opened to support the economy of the town and doubtless Brighton would benefit from direct rail links to Uckfield, Crowborough, Edenbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Orpington. It does seem rather strange that the Uckfield line is not planned to be re-opened, given it is a short section of line and the benefits it will provide, not least reduction of road journeys to Brighton and Falmer from a great swathe of East Sussex and West Kent.