Joy and relief as railway line finally reopens

2/4/14- Commuters and local business leaders celebrating after the Battle railway line reopened SUS-140204-114135001
2/4/14- Commuters and local business leaders celebrating after the Battle railway line reopened SUS-140204-114135001

AFTER two months of disruption, the Hastings to London line finally reopened on Monday (March 31).

After weeks of round-the-clock work by Network Rail engineers, trains started running again, much to the relief of commuters.

Three serious landslips earlier this year caused considerable disruption to passengers’ journeys as trains could not safely run over the damaged railway.

Network Rail had hoped to fully reopen the route in early March, but the Whatlington slip moved again, despite considerable work having taken place to fix it.

Network Rail’s route managing director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “This has been a really difficult time for passengers on the line and I have been continually impressed by their patience and understanding.

“We have had a serious engineering challenge to meet at Whatlington, as well as at the other landslip sites, and it has taken a huge effort from everyone to get to this position.

“I would like to thank passengers once again for bearing with us while we worked to reopen their railway.”

Charles Horton, managing director for train operator Southeastern said: “It has been a trying time for everyone on the Hastings line and we are relieved now the work is finished and we can start running normal trains again. We want to thank our customers for bearing with us and we are now focused on returning to normal and providing a good service to passengers.”

Buses have replaced trains between Battle and Robertsbridge since January 30.

Test trains were run over the newly repaired section of line for the first time on Sunday, before the start of passenger service on Monday morning.

The reopening has been welcomed by local businesses.

Alan Deeprose, president of the Battle Chamber of Commerce, said: “This rail lifeline, connecting Battle to Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Orpington and London, is absolutely vital to Battle’s economy.

“Not only do we welcome the ‘city spend’ which our commuters bring, but this rail service also brings countless visitors from the important towns along the length of the line and, of course from London.

“The London connection in turn brings an important number of visitors from abroad who are already staying in London, with plans to visit our historic town and the 1066 Battlefield.

“Although the traders in Battle and the other towns along this busy route have suffered because of the major disruption to the service, it must also have severely affected Southeastern.

“It should be a wake-up call to Network Rail to ensure that the track is maintained to the highest standard.

“This should be the catalyst which provokes the long-awaited modernisation of the line so ensuring long term reliability of the service with one hopes shorter journey times.”