Labour responds to Tories’ promise of high speed Hastings trains

Labour has responded to the Conservatives’ pledge to bring faster train services between Hastings and London.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 9:02 am
Peter Chowney SUS-190118-132118001

The Tories would have to spend a vast amount of money, upwards of £20 billion, to create a faster rail service between Hastings and London, Labour said.

The opposition party said this figure is based on the £400 million-per-mile cost of the current HS2 project linking London to the north.

Besides replacing track, the project would involve a major restructuring the station set-up at Ashford International, Labour added.

The party said this cost has been skirted around in a statement last Saturday (November 23) by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, who pledged to ‘fast track fast trains’ from Ashford to Hastings and Eastbourne.

Peter Chowney, Labour’s candidate for Hastings and Rye in next month’s General Election, said: “How will they modify the Marshlink line to raise the speed limit above the current 40mph?

“How much will the signalling, bridge and track works cost to achieve that?

“It’s rich of the Tories to allege what they claim are uncosted commitments by Labour when they produce this. It is another Tory promise they know can’t be delivered.”

Labour said it was also misleading that the Javelin trains would travel at 140mph from Hastings to Ashford.

The party said that is the top speed of Javelin trains between cities and in practice the speed would be nothing like that.

Mr Chowney said: “Former MP Amber Rudd promised in 2015 that the work to bring Javelin trains to Hastings would be in the next Network Rail control period. It wasn’t.

“The Javelin trains they are proposing may reduce commuting times, at great cost, but would do nothing to help local manufacturers get their goods in and out of Hastings.

“Several schemes to do this have been scrapped.

“Are they gong to electrify the line? If not, are they intending to use bi-mode battery, diesel or hydrogen fuel cell Javelin trains – none of which yet exists?

“What’s needed is a properly planned-out review of the transport infrastructure in this area, and in the South East generally, and then a fully-funded programme of improvements, not one-off vanity projects.

“There has been great work done by Transport for the South East, chaired by the Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council Keith Glazier but none of their plans mention making the Marsh Link line a priority.

“We need a strategic transport network that’s designed to minimise climate change, as well as speed up journey times.”

Labour has said it would bring the railways back into public ownership, cap fares and start a rolling programme of electrifying the rail network.

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