Local rail user groups are a fantastic source of information and enthusiasm (step forward, take a bow, SHRIMP, ESRA, and BRAG).
They have helped with my campaigns and like me will be welcoming the announcement, thankfully on time, that Govia ThameslInk has won the massive task of introducing new trains, new services and new schemes to make our travel more efficient, comfortable and safe.
Their task is really big - costing some £8.5billion -- but with the help of the local rail groups I will be monitoring and encouraging the changes, pushing for improvements and ensuring errors are corrected really fast - so we keep getting better value.
It has been well over a month now since the Secretary of State for Transport and the Managing Director for Network Rail South East came down to Hastings and delivered an ‘absolute commitment’ to bring the highly successful Javelin High Speed Trains to Hastings.
I want to give you this update, as we have much to do to make it happen. Some wonder why it is so important, and why we have to wait so long for fruition.
The answers are that faster communications are vital to attract new business and new employment prospects – but rail planning is very skilled and precise and we are in competition with so many other bidders. But we are winning.
Since, my Summit on Rail, along with Network Rail, the Department of Transport and East Sussex County Council I have been busy working through the business plan and project tasks needed to deliver the new journey time of 68 minutes into London.
However as you all know I want to see improvements sooner rather than later and I continue to work with rail operators to find ways to bring trains into the area faster.
I was very pleased to be able to announce recently a new faster commuter service to and from London via Tunbridge Wells which is planned to start in January 2015 to be called the Hastings Express. Now this week I have additional good news.
After working with the department on the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise, I am very excited to reveal that this will be supplemented by a faster train service which will be part of the new franchise starting next year.
This will reduce the journey time into Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, Clapham Junction and London Victoria.
This latest initiative is part of a multi billion investment in delivering improvements to train services across the South East and Hastings, St Leonards, Rye and Ore are firmly part of the plan.
Rail and Road infrastructure improvements have always been an important part of my work as your MP, as I firmly believe that improved connectivity and infrastructure to the area are key to attracting new employers to the town that pay better salaries coupled with making our great town more attractive to tourists who will spend money in Hastings, on our revitalised pier, in our locally owned shops and businesses coupled with staying in our hotels and guest houses.