Journey times will double for rail users

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THE extent of delays to rail users travelling to London via Ashford has been revealed with Southern making public its bus time table for January’s nine-week line closure.

It is not good news with commuters and school children facing winter journey times that will nearly double in length each way.

Stuart Harland, chairman of Marshlink Action Group (MLAG), said: “Southern has now issued its timetable for the replacement bus service during the blockade during January to March next year.

“As expected, the use of buses will result in slow journeys but quite how slow wasn’t anticipated.

“MLAG was keen that any timetable produced should be able to be kept to, considering the vagaries of the weather during the period, congestion at varying times of day, and, only recently realised, major road works on the A259.

“One expectation not realised was a direct bus from Hastings to Rye and then Ashford. Southern was not in favour of this proposal but has included in its timetable a bus every half-hour.

“Southern has also indicated that a back-up bus will be available in case the scheduled bus is full but the practical application of this hasn’t been made clear yet.

“We are expecting Southern to produce timetables for the bus replacement service shortly, in the same form as its train timetables.

“Meanwhile, the full bus replacement timetable can be seen at www.southernrailway.com/southern/news/essential-repair-work-to-ore-tunnel-in-january-important-information/.”

There is one glimmer of good news once the winter delays are over and that is a potentially shorter journey time to Ashford.

Mr Harland said: “MLAG has previously reported on the work Network Rail intends to carry out along the MarshLink line during the blockade period to improve track speed.

“One item of work that has been in some doubt has been the repair of the embankment to the south of Ashford station – this area has been subject to line speed restrictions for several years.

“The issue delaying commitment to this work has been the need for an environmental survey on the embankment and river.

“We now understand from Network Rail this survey has been completed without any major issues being identified and we hope the work can be done during the nine-week blockade and the speed restriction removed.”