Leader’s call for full survey on train lines

Network Rail contractors carry out work on the landslip site at Battle
Network Rail contractors carry out work on the landslip site at Battle

THE LEADER of the borough council has written a searching letter to Network Rail and the Government asking for a full survey of the train line between Hastings and Tonbridge.

Councillor Jeremy Birch wants reassurance the line will be ‘fit for purpose’ for any potential climate change. The line has been closed all month between Battle and Wadhurst due to several severe landslides.

Cllr Birch said: “We recognise this has been the wettest winter since records began and that has taken its toll on key transport infrastructure, including on the Hastings to Tonbridge railway line.

“The line is still currently closed between Wadhurst and Battle while landslips are repaired. The importance of this route to Hastings is obvious. It is our mainline, our rail lifeline to the capital. Although not as high profile as the Great Western main line, it is nevertheless vital to us, and I have no doubt at all that our visitor economy is suffering at the moment. Local businesses and commuters are also suffering. While we applaud the hard work being put in by rail staff, often in unpleasant wet and windy conditions, trying to make good the line which still remains out of action, we clearly want these vital repairs completed as soon as possible and the line running normally again. However, we also want reassurance that the line will be fit for purpose for a future where climate change may bring us extreme weather conditions much more frequently. I have therefore written to Network Rail asking them to carry out a full survey of the Hastings to Tonbridge line to assess its long-term stability. Whatever the survey identifies needs to be done must then be implemented – structural works to shore up the cuttings, secure the embankments, appropriate replanting to assist stability. We cannot afford to be here again next winter or the winter after. If necessary the Department of Transport should be approached to help fund any substantial investment that is required, and I have copied my letter to the Secretary of State for Transport.”