High Speed Rail Reference Group meets in Parliament

At the fourth meeting of the High Speed Rail Working Group, Amber Rudd MP and Huw Merriman MP heard how the local business case supports investment to reduce journey times between London St Pancras and Rye, Hastings and Bexhill by nearly 40 minutes.

The business case was prepared by transport consultancy specialist, Mott McDonald. Their report is being made available to the Department of Transport, Network Rail and all bidders for the Southeast franchise. The report was commissioned by our local authorities and South East Local Enterprise Partnership. The findings of the report demonstrate the regeneration potential from the extension to HS1.

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.

The Invitation To Tender ('ITT') for the Southeastern route will be published in October. Both Amber and Huw have lobbied the Department of Transport to have HS1 included in the ITT to ensure that the train operators are committed to delivering the service provided that Network Rail first deliver the track upgrades.

Amber said: “Huw and I will continue to champion this project to our colleagues. 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. An opportunity exists to start scoping the work at Ashford. The High Speed Reference Group has committed to finding the funding to allow this scoping work to include HS1.

Huw said “This was another positive meeting with our local stakeholders. We heard an even stronger business case for HS1. It will undoubtedly regenerate our community and bring more jobs, businesses, housing and benefits to public services. Amber and I are determined to work hard for our constituents to make this happen.”