High Speed rail just a ‘possibility’

Hastings Observer letters
Hastings Observer letters

From: Ian Roberts, Watermill Lane, Pett

Having attended Amber Rudd’s ‘Rail Summit’ in Hastings yesterday, I noticed that she is now talking about the “possibility” of a high speed rail link to the town.

Ms Rudd and Huw Merriman MP both used the word “if” (not ‘when’) as they spoke about the project.

However, in 2015 I received a letter from Ms Rudd stating that George Osborne (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) had committed funding to the project and Patrick McLoughlin (then Transport Secretary, now Conservative party chairman) had said it would be in the next control period.

In her letter, Ms Rudd also wrote “we promised it and we will deliver it”.

At the summit yesterday, Andrew Wood (senior commercial scheme sponsor, NetworkRail) informed us of ‘updated’ (i.e. watered down proposals) stating that the cost could only be met with as yet unsecured third party funding.

According to Mr Wood, the new proposals would examine the feasibility of electrifying or partially electrifying the line to Ashford. If money is a sticking point, perhaps he could make use of original plans to electrify the line prior to 1939!

Interestingly, in 2014 Amber Rudd presented Patrick McLoughlin with a specially commissioned artist’s impression of a high speed train at Hastings station. Above it, overhead power lines can clearly be seen. I wonder whether the inclusion of the electric lines was purely ‘artistic licence’.

I am beginning to wonder whether Ms Rudd used the same ‘artistic licence’ in her 2015 promise.

At a previous rail summit, it was hoped that the high speed link would be delivered ‘soon after 2019’.

Yesterday, Amber Rudd suggested the project would be delivered ‘around 2024’. – I suspect that by then, the Tory train will have long-since derailed.