The Anonymous Widower

Future-Proofing The Uckfield Branch

The Uckfield Branch of the Oxted Line was open today, so as in A Trip To Uckfield, I had to use a Rail Replacement Bus from Crowborough, I took a train to Uckfield station and back from London Bridge. These are some of the pictures I took at Uckfield station.

I can’t disagree with what I said in the previous post.

The platform work is certainly being done to a standard and length, that should be good enough, if the Uckfield Branch is used to create a second Brighton Main Line, by extending the line past Uckfield to Lewes on the route of the former Wealden Line.

All of the platforms I have seen on the Oxted Branch seem to be capable of taking a twelve-car train.

Uckfield’s Long Single Platform

Although, I suspect that Uckfield itself could be a bit longer, especially as workers still seemed to be extending it further to the North.

I would think, that this long platform would enable two eight-car trains to be parked in the station, if there was a need in the Peak or because one of the trains had failed.

It’s just more future-proofing.

Oxted’s Bay Platform

Platform 3 at Oxted station is a South-facing bay platform, which is used to provide shuttle and other services down the two branches. In the last couple of years, it has been electrified, which is just more future-proofing, in case it was required to run an electrified shuttle to East Grinstead.

IPEMUs To Uckfield?

The Oxted Line is electrified from London Bridge as far as Hurst Green station, where the two branches split.

  • The East Grinstead Branch is electrified.
  • Uckfield Branch is not and is about twenty miles long.

As a typical Electrostar IPEMU based on say a Class 387 train, would probably have a range of at least fifty to sixty miles, it would appear that IPEMUs could work the London Bridge or Victoria to Uckfield service.

  • Between London Bridge and Hurst Green the trains would take thirty-two minutes, getting power from the third-rail electrification. Batteries would also be charged on this leg.
  • Between Hurst Green and Uckfield, they would take forty-two minutes and rely on battery power.

I suspect too, that third-rail IPEMUs could charge their batteries fully before they left London Bridge.

Platform 3 at Oxted station might also be useful for charging an IPEMU running a shuttle service on the Uckfield Branch.

In my view, the work done on the Uckfield Branch in recent months has created a line, that would be an ideal route for IPEMUs to provide the service.

  • Platforms have been sufficiently lengthened.
  • Signalling can probably already cope with the longer trains.
  • There is no more electrification required.

All that is needed is to add an IPEMU-capability to the required number of Class 387 trains and train the staff.

How Long Is An IPEMU?

There is one mathematical and marketing problem, that must be solved before trains are run.

Class 387 trains come in sets of four-cars and on Thameslink, typically run in formations of four-, eight- or twelve-cars.

What is the optimal length to run services on the Uckfield Branch, as determined by passenger demand?

And can this length of train be provided?

I’ve not seen anything for instance, which says how many IPEMUs can form a single train.

But I suspect that Bombardier wouldn’t design a train, without a multiple-working capability.

And of course, the Uckfield Branch has been future-proofed for twelve cars.

I suspect that the capacity of the Uckfield Line will be determined more, by the size of the car parks.

Onward To Lewes

This article in the Uckfield News is entitled £100k Budget pledge for Uckfield to Lewes rail line study.

So it is possible that the Uckfield Branch could be extended by about ten miles to Lewes, along the route of the disused Wealden Line.

Intriguingly, as Lewes is fully electrified an IPEMU train going from London Bridge to Lewes would do less distance on batteries than a train going from London Bridge to Uckfield and back.

One of the problems with extending past Uckfield, is that the trains would have to cross the B2102 by the station in the middle of Uckfield.

This used to be a level crossing and I’m certain, that this option will not be reinstated for safety reasons. It has to be said, that as an IPEMU could cross on battery power, there might be a better solution, than a traditional level crossing.

But IPEMUs have another advantage, in that they could use a short underpass without electrification. I just wonder whether that some clever design could squeeze the railway line under the road.


If the passenger demand is there, there would appear nothing in the design of the upgrade to the Uckfield Line, to stop IPEMUs being used to fulfil that demand.



February 22, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,


  1. […] also believe that as I saw in Future-Proofing The Uckfield Branch, that all platforms including the bay platform at Slough station must be capable of accepting […]

    Pingback by Is This One Of The Most Valuable Sites For New Development In The UK? « The Anonymous Widower | February 25, 2016 | Reply

  2. […] that the Uckfield Branch has beeen improved, as I wrote about in Future-Proofing The Uckfield Branch, I think that there could be moves to reinstate the Wealden Line and improve services to Newhaven […]

    Pingback by The Lewes Horeshoe « The Anonymous Widower | February 27, 2016 | Reply

  3. […] that the Uckfield Branch has beeen improved, as I wrote about in Future-Proofing The Uckfield Branch, I think that there could be moves to reinstate the Wealden Line and improve services to Newhaven […]

    Pingback by The Lewes Horeshoe « The Anonymous Widower | February 27, 2016 | Reply

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