Isfield Station. The Lavender Line.
Originally uploaded by Wastrel UK
The 7 1/2 mile long Lewes-Uckfield line was shut in 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts. The closure put an end to through running to Lewes and Brighton and turned the Uckfield line into a long dead-end branch. A short bit in the middle of the route (above), called the Lavender Line was reopened and is runs by a group as a hobby and visitor attraction.
Ever since the line closed, there have been attempts at reopening. In the late 1980s, the cost was going to be about £6 million. Since then, as one report has succeeded another but the line has stayed shut, the cost has crept up; figures of ten or twenty million pounds were mentioned a few years ago. The latest estimate is £109 million, which apparently does not meet the criteria for an economic case for reopening. Presumably, the next time a study is done, the cost will be up to nearly double that amount.
One wonders about how the economic case was made. Was any attempt made to estimate the effect of the reopening on land values in the area? What about the reduction in traffic congestion in Brighton, as people from the town’s hinterland found themselves able to travel in by train instead of having to drive? Considering that the Chancellor committed a few billion to Northern Rock without there being much of a debate at all, what indeed does this say about the entire mechanism of British government?