Rail users’ group calling on Government to bring in raft of improvements

A RAIL passengers’ group is calling for a raft of improvements to be implemented on services from Hastings to London following the decision to extend the Southeastern franchise to 2018.

Ray Chapman, from St Leonards Hastings Rail Improvement Programme (SHRIMP) and co-founder and lead strategist of East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA), has written to Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport saying more needs to be done to make the services better for commuters and other passengers.

Southeastern runs trains from 1066 Country to London’s Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations via Battle and Tunbridge Wells.

Mr Chapman said: “Hastings is one of the most deprived communities in the south east and affordable rail connectivity to Hastings is of paramount importance.

“I am also extremely concerned surrounding the amount of engineering works that are taking place on the line which is not helping to the attractiveness of travelling in and out of the town.

“There needs to be clearer communication surrounding planned improvement works, levels of investment and details of the improvements taking place.”

He also said Hastings should have the lowest ticket price increases and that reduced priced tickets should be brought in for very early morning commuter services.

Mr Chapman is also calling for trains to run between London and Hastings on Boxing Day.

He added: “The limited stop Hastings train should delete the Wadhurst stop to enable a more attractive Hastings journey time and there should be later evening services on Fridays and Saturdays from Hastings to London.”

Earlier this month East Sussex County Council held a symposium where representatives from the Department of Transport, Network Rail and passenger stakeholder groups met to discuss how to improve services in 1066 Country and elsewhere in the county.

Mr Chapman said: “Currently being evaluated for prioritisation is the doubling and re-signalling of the line to Hastings from Ashford, which will give an increasing advantage to Hastings, especially if and when electrified, bringing the potential of new direct services to London St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel.”