At the third meeting of the High Speed Rail Working Group, Amber Rudd MP and Huw Merriman MP heard how Network Rail will present options in the New Year to reduce journey times between London St Pancras and Rye, Hastings and Bexhill by nearly 40 minutes.
The membership of the working group includes: both MPs; Network Rail; East Sussex, Hastings and Rother councils; South East LEP; Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce; Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and Tourism; local development and rail groups.
Amber said: “This was a very encouraging meeting. We heard, in the greatest detail so far, what improvements can be made to deliver high speed services to our area.”
Network Rail’s Kent Route Study will be published in draft for consultation in early 2017. This will be coordinated with the forthcoming Southeastern franchising process to enable a joined-up approach to delivering improved services in the South East. The next Southeastern franchise is due to commence in December 2018. From this point, the steps towards high speed rail will start to be introduced.
Amber added: “Huw and I will continue to champion this project to our colleagues. We will set out exactly what steps need to be taken to deliver high speed rail to our constituencies. This project could bring enormous benefits to our communities, boosting growth and regeneration, and offering people much greater opportunities for work and travel.”
Reductions in journey time would be delivered by new rolling stock – able to travel faster over both electrified and non-electrified track with greater capacity, improvements to track on the Marshlink line, and changes to the track around Ashford station to allow for direct journeys to London.
Huw said “This was a really positive meeting. We heard that with the increasing availability of new technology to dual-fuel state of the art trains like the Javelin, the high speed rail proposal for Bexhill and Hastings now has an even stronger business case. A new high speed rail link to London will also help to address the growing capacity issues for the south east rail network. With so many points in its favour, I am confident that our campaign to bring high speed rail to East Sussex will be achieved. Amber and I are determined to work hard for our constituents to make this happen.”