Challenging few months for trains

THE railways have had a challenging few months, with meteorological conditions and their impact proving very challenging for the rail industry.

This is ongoing and the ability of the industry to react has been varied.

SHRIMP engaged with Louise Ellman MP, chairman of House of Commons Transport Committee (HoCTC), which led to an opening enquiry involving Dave Ward, Network Rail managing director for London and south east, along with Chris Burchell, chairman of the National Task Force for Rail, who was speaking on behalf of Southeastern.

The discussion focussed on the industry’s ability to deliver robust and resilient emergency procedures for passenger recovery when issues arise, noting some contrast between operators. The HocTC enquiry is set to be-visited following their receipt of further evidence from ESRA/SHRIMP and other transport-associated organisations surrounding disruption in December and January.

Further to a meeting with the DfT and after campaigning to the relevant rail authorities for last few years, we are anticipating a DfT confirmation that the original plan to divert a Cannon Street service during the London Bridge works has been withdrawn.

This is a breakthrough because when we started campaigning many years ago the Cannon Street service was going to be withdrawn completely.

Over the past few months ESRA has worked with the Go Ahead and SNCF Keolis group, the owners of train firms in Sussex and Kent, to find the best solution to route services through London Bridge to keep all the Cannon Street services from St Leonards, Battle and Hastings where it is safe to do so.

On a further progressive note University College London (UCL), who are working on faster links to London, are in a serious of meetings with Network Rail in early February to look at the infrastructure work needed at Ashford International to being the high speed Javelin trains onto Rye, Hastings and Bexhill through the electrification of the ’Marshlink’ line.

Continuing with good news within a bleak travelling period, Ray Chapman of ESRA is reporting that Network Rail will open new infrastructure on the East Coastway main line, which links Hastings into Victoria, to future-proof the service and deliver resilience and flexibility.

February 10 will see the opening of the new and extra platform 7 at Gatwick Airport, which will allow more structured routing of services through the airport, with removal of the delays that are created by the interlinking of pathways with the Gatwick Express services. In addition we are just a few weeks from the launch of new signalling going live to finally get the trains back on time on the peak, this having been originally planned for November 2013.

Finally some breaking and important news - our specialist timetable team are working with the DfT on the final touches for an early morning Hastings to London Charing Cross express which will be the fastest path on this part of the network.

We would like to thank the community and the rail commuters of the area as we couldn’t have achieved these milestones without your support through our Twitter and Facebook links.

MARTIN WOODFINE

St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement Programme (SHRIMP)

RAY CHAPMAN

East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA)