Hastings and Rother Rail User Alliance (“HRRUA” of which MarshLink Action Group is a member) and invited guests recently held an online meeting with Eurostar. The two sides discussed the impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic on Cross-Channel travel, but looked forward to the high-speed train service once again connecting Kent and East Sussex with our near neighbours in France, and contributing to local tourism initiatives. In common with other operators Eurostar has experienced an unprecedented fall in passenger numbers, and recently announced that its stations at Ashford and Ebbsfleet would remain closed until at least 2022 as part of cost-saving measures.
The meeting was also attended by a representative from local rail operator GTR (Southern) whose MarshLink services connect Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings and Rye to Eurostar services.
Yolanda Laybourne, Chair of Bexhill Rail Action Group and of HRRUA said:
“We greatly value this opportunity to open a dialogue with Eurostar. While we are very concerned at the loss of through services from Ashford to the continent in the immediate future, we also recognise the extreme pressure that the entire transport sector is under with Covid restrictions.
“We want to look to the future, and how we can work together for each other’s benefit, both to bring more visitors in to 1066 Country and to make East Sussex an attractive place to do business. A key component of this is international rail connections via the Marshlink and Ashford International. To this end, we have agreed to keep each other updated, and have invited a representative from Eurostar to visit local towns and stations once conditions permit.”
MLAG is further concerned that the additional cost of getting to and from London to catch a Eurostar service is prohibitive and that there should be special fares available to include this additional travel as we believe apply from some other parts of the country.