The Marshlink Community Rail Partnership (CRP) – part of the Sussex Community Rail Partnership – held its annual general meeting in Rye on Friday.
A packed town hall heard presentations from Kevin ‘Taff’ Barry, the Marshlink community rail development officer, Amber Rudd MP, Angie Doll, passenger services director for Southern and Gatwick Express, Andrew Wood, senior commercial sponsor from Network Rail, and Dr Barry Yates from the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.
Kevin Boorman, the chair of the Marshlink CRP, said: “We were delighted that so many senior figures supported our AGM.
“Amber Rudd spoke with passion about her commitment to keep plans for a high speed service between London, Rye, Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne at the top of the agenda. She also praised the work of the Sussex Community Rail Partnership and the local rail user groups.
“Angie Doll updated the meeting on Southern developments, highlighting the recent performance improvements, and was extremely supportive of community rail and particularly the Sussex Community Rail Partnership, which was very heartening. She also confirmed a number of timetable improvements to Marshlink services from December, which will improve connections at Ashford International, which I know will be welcomed.
“Andrew Wood explained the process for improving the Marshlink service, including the opportunity to physically link the Marshlink with HS1. He also spoke of the possibility of improving the track across the Marsh, to increase the speed and so improve journey times and possibly add more stops to the local services.
“It was good to get an update from Dr Barry Yates on the new visitor centre at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and his work on encouraging people to visit the reserve by public transport.
“It was a really interesting meeting, and I had some very positive feedback on it. I’m really grateful to Kevin Barry for all that he does, and for putting together such a great agenda. He also spoke passionately about the need to make the railway system more accessible for all.”
Ms Rudd gave those at the meeting an update of the situation regarding rail connections in Hastings and Rye, as well as across East Sussex more generally. She also presented a certificate to John Spencer, station partner at Winchelsea station, in recognition of his long-standing commitment to community rail work. John has been an active campaigner for improved railway line services and has spent time working alongside Marsh Link Action Group.
Ms Rudd said: “Ever since being elected MP for Hastings and Rye back in 2010, I have campaigned long and hard for improved rail services both for my constituency and for East Sussex. I will continue to speak out on this issue, which I feel so passionately about and am determined to see continued improvements on both the Marshlink line and on links with the High-Speed rail service at Ashford.”
Mr Barry said: “It was very good to see so many people at Rye town hall interested in our work. I am very grateful to all of our speakers for making the meeting so informative, everyone really appreciated them giving up their time to support us.
“We are especially grateful to the ongoing support of Southern, from their local station and maintenance staff through their enthusiastic local station manager Kate Richards to the very top of the organisation, as we saw with Angie Doll attending our meeting.”