Observer Comment: Track closure is a bitter blow to Easter tourism

NETWORK Rail’s decision to close down the railway track so that no trains run into or out of Hastings throughout the busy Easter holiday period is plain ridiculous.

This town, which relies heavily on tourism to boost its fragile economy, now stands to lose tens of thousands of pounds from visitors, who may very well shun 1066 Country and go elsewhere in future.

Many, especially those travelling from further afield, will be put off by the prospect of having to board a bus to complete their journey.

It couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time - Hastings is basking in the glow of nationwide publicity brought by the Jerwood Gallery opening.

But instead of readying ourselves for train loads of visitors, we are likely to suffer a sharp decline in tourism.

Network Rail’s ill-thought out plan has done the town a big disservice, and its explanation simply doesn’t wash.

A pledge that there will be no planned closures on the railway for three months this summer does not mean Bank Holidays should be targeted for engineering work instead. There are plenty of other weekends in the year that impact less on our town.

We understand that track upgrades and equipment improvements must be done, but to choose Easter Bank Holiday to carry out such work in a seaside town reliant on tourism smacks of stupidity.

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THE majestic Red Arrows are coming to town for the first time in almost a quarter of a century.

And what a feather in Hastings’ cap it will be, at the culmination of a week in which the Olympic Torch passes through, with the world’s eyes watching, not to mention Pirate Day, and a world record attempt for the largest number of pirates in one place.

The Royal Air Force’s display team have an international reputation, and a jam-packed schedule of appearances the world over, so to have secured a display for Hastings is really something special.

Spirits will be high on Sunday, July 22, that is certain.