The Oxted Line with other railway lines in South London, Surrey, Kent and East Sussex.
|Type||Commuter rail, Suburban rail|
South East England
|Rolling stock||British Rail Class 171 "Turbostar"
British Rail Class 377 "Electrostar"
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Oxted Line is a railway line in southern England, originally operated jointly by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and the South Eastern Railway. It is now part of the Southern franchise.
Both branches formerly continued further:
- from East Grinstead to Haywards Heath, Lewes and Tunbridge Wells. Part of the route south of East Grinstead is preserved as the Bluebell Line.
- Ashurst and Eridge on the Uckfield line were junctions for Tunbridge Wells (see the Spa Valley Railway below), and Eridge also for Eastbourne.
- from Uckfield trains to Lewes and Brighton. A short stretch at Isfield (between Uckfield and Lewes) is preserved as the Lavender Line.
At Selsdon, north of Sanderstead there was until 1983 a junction with the Woodside and South Croydon Joint line to Elmers End. Between Hurst Green and Lingfield there was a connection with the Redhill to Tonbridge Line.
A line was proposed in 1864 from Croydon to Tunbridge Wells via Oxted by a group of former LB&SCR directors. Their proposal for the Surrey and Sussex Junction Railway (S&SJR) was to have the scheme underwritten and then operated by the LB&SCR.
However, the South Eastern Railway (SER) saw the S&SJR, and particularly the involvement of the LB&SCR chairman Leo Schuster, as a significant incursion into its territory. In addition to creating a rival to its own line to Tunbridge Wells, the SER saw the LB&SCR's direct involvement as contravening an 1849 agreement between the two companies. In retaliation, the SER put forward proposals for a 'London, Lewes and Brighton' railway together with the London Chatham and Dover Railway. As a result of these difficulties and the financial crisis of 1866-7, the LB&SCR signed a new agreement with the SER in which it withdrew support for the S&SJR, and the SER abandoned its scheme. Work on the S&SJR immediately ceased, but the holding company remained in existence until 1869, when it was merged with the LB&SCR and then closed.
On 10 March 1884, the LB&SCR and the SER formed a joint venture company, the Croydon, Oxted & East Grinstead Railway. Surveyed and engineered by the LB&SCR's Chief Engineer Frederick Banister, the proposed route in part used trackbed constructed for but never used by the S&SJR. The line was jointly owned and operated until Hurst Green, when it split into three:
- to Edenbridge junction, allowing connection to the SER's Redhill to Tonbridge Line
- to East Grinstead, owned by the LB&SCR but jointly operated with the SER
- to Eridge, owned by the LB&SCR with junctions with the Wealden Line, the Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line, and the Cuckoo Line
The East Grinstead branch was electrified in 1987 at 750V DC third rail. The Uckfield branch is not electrified, and is worked by Class 171 diesel multiple units, which replaced Class 205 and Class 207 DEMUs.
The two branches of the Oxted Line connect with different heritage railways, both of which have plans to extend their routes to interchange with the national network:
- the Spa Valley Railway has extended its route from Groombridge to Birchden Junction, and from there to Eridge, where it has restored the disused island platform and commenced services on 25 March 2011.
- the Bluebell Railway is now extended to East Grinstead, where it has built a new single-platform station which will interchange with the National Rail station. Through running to Network Rail started in March 2010, when GBRf was contracted to run occasional trains carrying 1000 tons of excavated material from the Blubell's northern extension to a disposal site at Calvert, Buckinghamshire.
A £140,000, six-month study has been approved by the council and Network Rail looking into the possibility of rebuilding the line between Uckfield and Lewes. This was set up by the Wealden Line Campaign Group. On 23 July 2008 the Central Rail Corridor Board (a joint group of local councils and stakeholders) commissioned study by Network Rail reported that there was not an economic case for reopening, citing a £141 million cost and a low "Benefit To Cost ratio" of 0.64 to 0.79 when a BCR of 1.5 is the minimum needed to make a scheme viable.
The Wealden Line Campaign Group has in addition to campaigning for the reopening a line between Uckfield to Lewes line proposed an extension north from Sanderstead to Elmers End. The proposal as a whole would have new platforms at Brighton and five miles of the East Coastway Line upgraded. The line would branch off the East Coastway after Falmer. A new Ashcombe tunnel would be bored after crossing the A27 before crossing the Keymer Junction (Wivelsfield) to Lewes line. The line would take back the preserved Lavender Line at Isfield. No stations would be reopened between Lewes and Uckfield and all level crossings would be closed. A new station at Uckfield south of the current one would allow 12-carriage trains. The line to Eridge would be double-tracked and electrified with a maximum speed limit of 90 mph. New passing loops at Eridge would allow fast trains to overtake slower stopping services. The proposal also includes bringing the Eridge to Tunbridge Wells line back into National Rail with through services to Brighton from Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Instead of carrying on to the Brighton Main Line, the line would branch off at Sanderstead and reopen the former line, but Croydon Tramlink has taken over the section between Coombe Road and Elmers End. The line would join the Hayes Line at Elmers End and then run to London Bridge, London Charing Cross and possibly on to the Thameslink network. There is also a suggestion for some trains to run on the East London Line and branch off after Whitechapel to London Liverpool Street. The whole project could see as little as one building demolished.
The project would have trains diverted away from bottlenecks at East Croydon and Windmill Bridge junction, electric trains on the Uckfield branch instead of Class 171 diesel trains and more capacity between London and Brighton.
- Gould, David (2003). The Croydon, Oxted & East Grinstead Railway. The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-598-5.
- Turner, John Howard (1978). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 2 Establishment and Growth. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-1198-8.
- White, Chris (Winter 2009). "Viaduct work—and tip material to be removed by rail". Bluebell News (Sussex, England: Bluebell Railway) 51 (4): 24–25.
- "Railway reopening study approved" (Press release). BBC News. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- The full report by Network Rail, at East Sussex CC - 23 July 2008
- ['Could a second main line offer Brighton a brighter future?' Rail Magazine Issue 642, 21 April-4 May 2010, Page36-37]
- Brighton Main Line 2 website