Campaigners and councils have joined forces to challenge the verdict of an official "study" which ruled against reopening the Uckfield-Lewes line in Sussex.

The councils – some of which were excluded from taking part in the recent study managed by East Sussex County Council – have engaged a world-leading transport consultancy to carry out a fresh analysis of the Wealden line reopening project.

The new initiative is jointly financed and controlled by the councils of Crowborough, Lewes and Uckfield and was announced after last week campaigners published their own 30-page review and analysis of the 2008 Lewes-Uckfield Railway Line Study.

“The LURLS contained a number of ‘facts’ which we think were actually untrue and these were combined with a number of opinions which were disingenuously disguised as facts," said Wealden Line campaign director Brian Hart.

"We consider that the bias in the LURLS is so overwhelming that a disservice was done not only to the public bodies which commissioned it, but the wider public whose interests the report was supposed to serve.”

The new council-financed study will be carried out by Jacobs transport consultancy, which will carry out a properly focused scoping of the project to take into account the wider strategic benefits which Wealdenlink would deliver to the South East Region.

It is anticipated this will lead to the production of a new business case analysis which acknowledges the wider benefits and opportunities which would accrue from re-establishing these short links to join major rail routes and conurbations.

Leading the Jacobs investigation is David Bradshaw, who has more than 22 years’ experience in the rail industry.

He previously worked with train operating company Great Western and before that British Rail, with both Network South East and Southern Region.

Mr Bradshaw’s skills include revenue forecasting, service planning and business case appraisal as well as project management.

Because he also specialises in suburban, regional and high-speed passenger rail business, he is ideally suited to take on this review of the Wealden line project.

Demand modelling and forecasting, service planning, and capacity studies across a broad spectrum should have been intrinsic factors of the 2008 ESCC/Central Rail Corridor Board’s study.

Uckfield Town Council said the reopening of the Uckfield-Lewes rail link is vital to the town’s future prosperity.

Crowborough Town Council added: “Being the largest inland town in East Sussex with a population of over 22,000, Crowborough is acutely aware of not only being cut off from the coast, but also the nearby centre of Tunbridge Wells.

"Renewing these short rail links would put Crowborough on the network it deserves, which is why the council is financially and wholeheartedly committed towards playing its part along with other Sussex councils in supporting this new investigation.”

Mayor of Lewes Michael Chartier said: “This project will give the central area of East Sussex the rail link it needs to Lewes and the coastal towns and enable thousands of people to leave their cars at home and instead take the train.

"It would also free the county town from being entirely dependent on the overcrowded Brighton main line. Lewes is wholeheartedly backing this new initiative.”

The Wealden Line Campaign's Brian Hart said: “This news is immensely encouraging and we are greatly heartened by the lead taken by these councils.

"While people suffer increasingly crowded trains and we have a crisis of capacity on our railways, we now see politicians pouring millions into producing cars which no one wants.”

Information from Wealden Line Campaign: wealdenline

Review and analysis can be downloaded from wealdenlink