Fast-tracking fast trains to Hastings will be top of the list for an incoming Conservative government.
Yesterday Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, said he would ‘prioritise’ the introduction of the 140mph Javelin Trains on the Hastings line if his party wins the General Election next month.
The announcement comes after lobbying from the Conservative Candidate for Hastings and Rye Sally-Ann Hart, Huw Merriman in Bexhill and Battle and Caroline Ansell the Conservative candidate in Eastbourne.
“Sally-Ann has been a champion of the introduction of Javelin-type high speed rains on the line to Hastings from London to speed up travel for tourists and commuters to the area.
“I will be looking at this as a priority issue if a majority Conservative Government is returned in December,” Mr Shapps said.
The major benefits of a faster service have been investigated in depth by East Sussex County Council. A key aim is to reduce reliance on road vehicles on the cross coastal roads that are already under extreme pressure, crucially those linking Eastbourne, through and around Hastings and Rye to Ashford.
The case now appears to be even stronger for the Javelin-type trains as plans are brought forward for significant new rail investment at Croydon and other key junctions on the South London commuter network and the Brighton main line, all of which could help ensure that coastal and capital–bound trains have a highly effective insurance against delays and cancellations.
The introduction of Javelin trains, by way of a much improved track, could lower the travel time between Hastings and London to just over 60 minutes and give a substantial boost the economy of Hastings and the surrounding area – estimates suggest more than £1billion in the short-term.
The Javelin effect has significantly transformed Kent’s North Coast, “so we know it will work for us” said Mrs Hart at the weekend.
“The fast trains to Hastings and Rye will unlock the economic potential that the area has to offer and I welcome The Secretary of State’s comments and look forward to working with him on achieving this for our towns,” she told Hastings In Focus.
In their interviews with Hastings In Focus earlier this month each of the three leading contenders in the General Election campaign in Hastings and Rye identified poor transport links as an impediment to economic growth, here this interviews by following these links
On Friday the Marshlink Community Rail Partnership (CRP) held its AGM in Rye town hall. The Marshlink CRP is part of the Sussex CRP, which works to connect local communities with their railway.
Keynote speaker was Chris Fowler, Southern Railway’s customer services director, who told the audience about Southern’s future plans, including timetable changes to accommodate £150m improvements at Gatwick Airport station, and longer trains.
Fiona Morton, Sussex CRP’s development manager, updated the meeting on the CRP’s achievements over the past year, and its plans for the next year.
Kevin Boorman, chair of the Marshlink CRP, said: “We were very pleased to welcome Chris Fowler from Southern to Rye for our AGM, and Fiona, our development manager. A huge amount has been achieved at our stations this year, from Ore to Ham Street, and we are very grateful indeed for the work of Kevin Barry, our line development officer, and the very many volunteers who have helped him.
“Our AGM demonstrated that the Marshlink CRP is just what community rail partnerships are all about :- putting rail at the heart of the community.”
Pic shows the AGM at Rye town hall with l to r Fiona Morton, Chris Fowler, and Kevin Boorman