Deeper pockets needed for railways

RAIL fares rise again in the New Year as we progress towards a railway that will be the envy of the world, as John Major told us in the mid-1990s, upon launching the worst privatisation of all that has resulted in lots of private companies troughing their way through more public money than British Rail (BR) ever had.

And it was BR for all its faults that last brought about any substantial improvements locally when the line to Tonbridge was electrified in 1986. Privatisation has brought no improvements that BR wouldn’t have come up with and I suspect that the handful of hardy commuters in Hastings are not holding their breaths on the next fares increase resulting in anything that improves their daily trek.

Money is being poured into big projects such as Thameslink and Crossrail - neither of which will lead to quicker journey times to Charing Cross or Victoria.

Hastings has three routes to London and it is the Cinderella of the three via Rye and Ashford that has the real potential with a London journey time of 70 minutes perfectly feasible if Hastings to Ashford is electrified, restored to double track and linked in with Southeastern’s high speed service to St Pancras. Once again - do not hold your breath.

Actually, being a dedicated fan of the diesel trains that got us to Charing Cross prior to 1986 in much the same time it takes today, BR didn’t improve things at all when it electrified the railway to Tonbridge. Bad old BR.

Dig deeper in the New Year, folks.

SIMON STODDART

Gresham Way

St Leonards