Campaigners’ joy at announcement that rail service is saved

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the news the Hastings to London Cannon Street rail service has been saved.

City-bound commuters found out last week that the direct rail service has been saved, thanks to a determined effort by area businesses with East Sussex County Council, local authorities and MPs.

When, in 2009, Network Rail proposed to truncate this direct link to the City at London Bridge, private-sector businesses along the line between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings were swift to point out it could spell economic disaster for the area. Secretary of Hastings and St Leonards Tourism Association Yolanda Laybourne, who was heavily involved with the campaign, said: “With East Sussex and other councils already united in their objection to the proposal, we were happy to co-ordinate a concerted campaign from the private sector.

“In consultation with Southeastern, we set about organising a carefully-orchestrated system of lobbying letters to be sent to the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Westminster MPs.

“More than 25 area businesses and organisations, together representing hundreds of businesses, were quick to sign up to the lobby, and we drip-fed the letters up the chain over a key period of 15 months.

“The diversity of the businesses involved was extraordinary, from one-man bands to substantial employers, but the message was always the same - it was all about jobs, livelihoods and the threat to our local economy if this direct rail lifeline to the City was axed.”

She added: “This result is great news, and wonderful that all the uncertainty over this important direct rail-link to the City has now been lifted. “Everyone who participated in the campaign is to be thanked and congratulated on this huge achievement.”