Where is Britain’s worst railway bottleneck?
The Croydon area is by far the busiest and most congested part of Britain’s rail network, with 30% more passengers and trains passing through it each day than London Euston and King’s Cross stations combined. The ‘Croydon bottleneck’ at Windmill Bridge Junction regularly causes delays and disruption to up to 300,000 passengers who travel on the Brighton Main Line and its branches each day. Train punctuality on the Brighton Main Line is the lowest of any major route as the bottleneck magnifies the impact of even the most minor incident or delay.
Why is it so important to address the ‘Croydon Bottleneck’?
Coast to Capital has recently published its Strategic Economic Plan – Gatwick 360 - which confirms that connectivity and railway capacity is a major driver of productivity in the Coast to Capital area. This area needs significant long-term rail investment to support a growing regional economy and maintain its competitive advantage. Unlocking this bottleneck will enhance reliability, capacity, connectivity and resilience, driving growth and productivity throughout the region. This is vital for our links to London, as well as our international connectivity.
What are Network Rail’s plans?
Network Rail is developing a major scheme to upgrade the Brighton Mainline at Croydon called the Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme. This scheme would see additional tracks constructed in the Croydon area, extra platforms at an expanded and modernised East Croydon station and a series of new railway flyovers to replace the current ‘spaghetti junction’ near the station where lines from the south coast, Sussex and Surrey meet those to and from London Victoria, London Bridge and beyond.
The upgrade proposals are a key part of Network Rail’s long-term strategy to ensure that the rail network can continue to support and drive UK economic growth, providing reliable, fast and frequent services for the increasing numbers of people predicted to travel by rail.
How is Coast to Capital supporting these plans?
Coast to Capital is spearheading the Brighton Mainline Alliance, a group of businesses and organisations that support the aim for Government to fully commit to funding strategic investment in the Brighton Mainline, specifically to unlock the Croydon bottleneck. The Brighton Mainline currently has over 60 business members and the support from all 16 Local Authorities in the Coast to Capital area and regional MPs. Coast to Capital and its Brighton Mainline Alliance is strongly supporting the Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme.
How can you get involved in the Brighton Mainline Alliance?
By joining the Alliance you are adding your weight to the strong collective voice calling for the vital investment required to drive growth and productivity across the whole region, protect our economic potential and support the growth ambitions of our businesses. If your business or organisation wants to demonstrate support please send your logo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the next steps?
Network Rail is currently carrying out a first round of public consultation on its plans for Croydon. The consultation will involve a number of events in the Croydon area, supported by promotional activity at key stations along the line including Gatwick Airport and Brighton, and will ask recipients whether they agree with plans to improve services on the Brighton Mainline around Croydon. Coast to Capital and the Brighton Mainline Alliance will ‘strongly agree’ to this consultation question. The public consultation closes on Monday 17 December and if you would like to respond please visit www.networkrail.co.uk/Croydon. Network Rail will carry out further rounds of consultation activity as the design for the scheme progresses, with a second round likely in spring/summer 2019.
The Alliance will continue its campaign over the next 18 months and will urge Government to commit to the design of the scheme once it is finalised and the associated strategic investment which is so vitally needed.