Writer Peter Bolwell (HO,31/07) should be aware that the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats support the project to bring HS1 services to Hastings and Bexhill, both recognising the potential and importance of this service.
SHRIMP as a non-political campaign group have always been and are happy to continue working with all the political parties with a view to improving our towns transport links, but find it odd that our sitting MP is being criticised for trying to improve the public transport links for both local constituents and visitors alike. The HS1 service will bring extra tourism and business thus boosting local employment, enable Hastings to employ extra staff in key areas such as employment and health, and provide an important extra link in access to and from the area.
In other areas where HS1 has already arrived such as Deal, Margate and the North Kent coastal towns, the service has been welcomed. Now that they have it they don’t want to lose it.
When HS1 services were first introduced from Ashford to St Pancras, there was scepticism that the combination of a North London terminus and premium fares would turn it into a (blue and) white elephant. In reality, the passenger numbers from not only Ashford and throughout Kent, but also from Rye and Hastings via the Marshlink, is raising concerns about the service meeting demands.
Peter is spot-on about the appalling capacity limitations on the two-car diesel service to Brighton, but fails to note that there is also an hourly four-car electric service.
Electrifying the Hastings Ashford line will resolve that issue as there will no need to rely on the very limited diesel stock.
So if only for that reason the project should be supported.
This is not an issue that has been ignored, but the only other suggestion from within the rail industry is to cut the service at Eastbourne – but that will not address our capacity issue.
SHRIMP in conjunction with ESRA and our MP have been in regular discussion with the industry with a view to finding a potential answer to this issue, including a forthcoming viewing of converted ex-Underground trains to establish whether they are a practical short-term solution.
St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement
p/o East Sussex Rail Alliance
Affiliated to RailFuture
Hastings Access, Transport Regeneration, Intermodal Connectivity
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