Infrastructuure issues

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WHILE the recent disruption was very unwelcome, SHRIMP and ESRA believe it is more constructive to work with the rail industry to find solutions, rather than attack it for issues beyond their control and for the impacts of historical under-investment over a long period.

It is important to note that the recent disruptive landslides were not restricted to the immediate railway infrastructure, but actually involved a deeper geological problem.

St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement (SHRIMP), now part of East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA), was founded in 2010 to focus on Hastings’ rail infrastructure issues.

Since our inception, through regular liaison and meetings with the rail industry and with the help of Amber Rudd MP’s regular discussions with the relevant Government departments, we have been successfully campaigning on:

* The retention of Cannon Street services for long term (except where unavoidable due to the London Bridge reconstruction works), with specific success in the retention of the 0639 Cannon Street service

* More capacity on the Hastings line, via Tonbridge – with 12 car trains on some services, which involved power upgrades

* Investment in track infrastructure and points heating

* Investment towards the re-signalling of the East Coastway line, now scheduled to be effective from April 2014, to drive resilience and improve reliability during disruption

* Upgrades to the infrastructure of the Brighton Main Line to drive resilience and more reliability of the direct service to Gatwick

* Better connections to HS1 services at Ashford, resulting in a reduction by 20 minutes of journey time to London and 40 mins to the Stratford/Docklands in peak hours

* Solutions to capacity issues on the Ashford service (ongoing)

In addition we have also engaged with House of Commons Transport Select Committee re winter disruption and the industry’s reaction thereto.

The contracts between the rail companies and the Department for Transport (DfT) are complex, notably the Southeastern one, and these complexities will hopefully be removed within the re-franchising process.

Notwithstanding this, there has been the implementation of an extremely generous compensation solution for Southeastern’s commuters and customers launched in 2011, in most cases this by far exceeds by double the National Rail Conditions of Carriage and also the recent EU legislation surrounding compensation.

This also includes a good scheme for Southern customers too.

Numerous discussions with the industry continue and will feature in Amber Rudd’s forthcoming Hastings Rail Summit on 31st March, which will be attended by the Secretary of State for Transport and representatives from across the rail industry.

Link: http://amberrudd.co.uk/rail/

MARTIN WOODFINE

St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement

www.1066shrimprail.org.uk

RAY CHAPMAN

East Sussex Rail Alliance