Call for greater ambition over second mainline

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald is leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald is leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council

Cllr Theobald is calling for BML2 to be made the centrepiece of the Greater Brighton devolution bid.

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald, Conservative Group leader on Brighton and Hove City Council, is calling for a second Brighton to London rail mainline - BML2 - to be made the centrepiece of the Greater Brighton devolution bid to government.

The Greater Brighton Economic Board, of which Cllr Theobald is a member, comprises the leaders and chief executives of Brighton and Hove City Council, Lewes District Council, Mid Sussex District Council, and Adur and Worthing Councils.

The Board has recently submitted a bid to government for more powers to be devolved to the local area, including over transport investment, and Cllr Theobald believes strong emphasis should be placed on BML2 in the negotiation process.

Cllr Theobald said: “All the areas such as Manchester and Birmingham which have been successful in their negotiations with government for greater powers have had a bold and ambitious vision for their areas. By putting the very obvious case for a second direct rail line from Brighton to London at the forefront of our bid, I firmly believe that we can join these municipal powerhouses. The government is clearly very keen on investing in new rail infrastructure through projects such as HS2, Crossrail 1 and 2 and HS3 so I do believe that we would be knocking on an open door, or at the very least, one that has not been bolted shut. BML2 would bring about enormous economic benefits to both Greater Brighton and Greater London and would at the same time ease congestion and give passengers a direct and reliable alternative when things go wrong on the current Brighton to London line.”

Cllr Warren Morgan, Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I’d welcome any investment by the Government in better rail links between Brighton and London, and it was disappointing that the chancellor chose to spend £300 million elsewhere in his Autumn Statement.

“Devolution to the Greater Brighton City Region will give us more power to get investment in the infrastructure our local economy needs and I’m pleased the Secretary of State views our bid as a strong one.”