Rail investment on the cards for line

VITAL work is to be carried out to improve the Hastings to Tonbridge railway line after the wettest winter on record took its toll on the infrastructure.

The relentless rain caused huge problems earlier in the year, with major landslips reported on the line at Marley Farm in Battle, the Whatlington Viaduct and near Stonegate station.

As a result, parts of the line were closed for several weeks, with replacement bus services drafted in to ferry passengers between Battle and Wadhurst stations.

Network Rail, which is responsible for the rail infrastructure, had contractors working around the clock in a bid to fix the damage.

The line fully reopened in the middle of March.

In an attempt to avoid history repeating itself this winter, Network Rail is to invest into an extensive programme of improvement work on the line between Hastings and Tonbridge.

The work includes improving drainage and strengthening the earthworks on the route. Speed restrictions, which were put in place during the period of poor weather, are finally being lifted.

Representatives from Network Rail were at Battle Railway Station earlier this week, distributing leaflets to passengers to inform them about the work.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Passengers on the Hastings to Tonbridge line endured a very difficult winter, with no fewer than three serious landslips on the route.

“Network Rail and its contractors worked round the clock to get the line back into normal use but we are also keen to let people know we haven’t forgotten their railway now trains are running.

“We have a programme of work for the route, some of which has been put in place following the winter, and some of which we would do as a matter of course, but that would normally not be visible to passengers.

“We are removing speed restrictions we had to put in place during the winter, improving the drainage and strengthening the earthworks on the route, and we have also brought forward planned improvements in customer information screens.

“We have also worked closely with Southeastern to improve timetabling, including the creation of a fast service in the morning coming into use on January 15 next year.”