Owner of Hastings Miniature Railway speaks out against extension

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THE OWNER of Hastings Miniature Railway says a bid to extend the line further along the seafront should be shunted into the sidings.

Dan Radcliffe believes businessman Naz Uddin’s petition to bring a shuttle service into St Leonards will be derailed.

Mr Uddin, who runs the Bengal Curry House, has started a petition to bring the railway into his part of town.

A resident for more than 40 years, he believes the area is missing out on investment and wants to attract more tourism and trade into the area. More than 150 people have signed the petition since it was launched in October.

But Mr Radcliffe says the 65-year-old line would have to be rebuilt at a cost of £3 million.

He claims he has already been in talks with the council about bringing the line as far as Pelham Place but this section alone would cost £100,000.

Bad weather can wash large amounts of water and shingle over the promenade at Robertson Street and The Marina Pavilion making any line difficult and dangerous to run.

Mr Radcliffe said: “The railway has run as a ten and a quarter inch gauge railway for nearly 65 years as an attraction for both tourists and locals and was not designed to run over the distance Mr Uddin suggests.

“The line would need to be re-gauged to suit larger trains which would result in Hastings losing its unique and historic attraction.

“Seaside Miniature Railways of our gauge are becoming very rare and therefore of great interest to railway enthusiasts from all over the country.

 “We have already discussed with the council plans to extend the line to Pelham Place at some time in the future, although no final decision has been made. To extend any further than this would cause problems with safety, weather conditions and of course the vast costs involved.”

Council leader Jeremy Birch, who is the member for Central St Leonards, welcomed any move to bring a transport link along the seafront.

He said: “A transport link to bring people from Old Town to St Leonards and beyond is a good idea but we have to be careful about how it could work.

“I am not aware of any recent disussions with the Miniature Railway about extending to Pelham Place but £100,000 sounds about the right cost. The council would be unable to fund £3 million for a venture like this.

“As for business opportunities for that end of town; there is an Arts Forum, footwear store, new cafe and wedding shop all thriving in the last 12 months. It has been called Marine Quarter and they are really making a go of it. We will wait to see Mr Uddin’s petition.”