Presentation of Southern’s May 2018 timetable
This year, MarshLink Action Group’s Annual General Meeting will be held somewhat earlier in the year than usual – at 7pm on Tuesday 27th February at Rye Town Hall: as usual, the guest presentation will start at 7.15pm to enable train passengers arriving at Rye at 18:54 (hopefully) to get to the meeting.
This year’s scheduling of the AGM is to enable members to receive a presentation of Southern’s May 2018 timetable directly from Govia’s Head of Strategic Planning (for our purposes, the head of timetabling) as it is being publicly released: following this presentation the show will move to the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill for another presentation the following day.
Over the last six months or so many hours of discussion have taken place between Southern’s timetablers and representatives of MLAG and three other MarshLink rail action groups together with Rail Future. Southern has also initiated three extensive public consultation phases to which, I trust, MLAG members have contributed.
During these discussions, MLAG and the other rail action groups have raised their many issues with the current timetable (including our stated Objectives for the service) and we wait to find out the end result of these representations.
MarshLink Action Group 2017 AGM
The MarshLink Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 3rd May at Rye Town Hall. The formal (normally very short) AGM will start at 7pm with presentations following immediately afterwards including a question and answer session (usually a very lively and informative part of the meeting).
The current Southern rail services continue to be enveloped in conflict with the RMT and the membership of ASLEF (as opposed to the management of ASLEF who appear to be in frequent agreement with Southern). We trust we will have a representative of Southern Railways attending the meeting to discuss the issues from their perspective.
Looking further into the future we will be looking at the issues surrounding the possibility of the HS1 service between St. Pancras and Ashford being extended to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill (maybe also to Eastbourne) – it has been given a name, so that’s a good start, the MarshLink High Speed (though, perversely, there is no prospect the service would operate at high speed along the MarshLink line). We have been waiting for quite a while for Network Rail’s Kent Route Study (perhaps strangely, the MarshLink comes within the scope of the Kent Study) which will formulate Government policy on the future of this service, more particularly the infrastructure required to enable the service to operate. One of Network Rail’s strategic planners who wrote the consultation document will be at the AGM to summarise the issues raised in the Study and endeavour to answer questions. For those who would like to get straight to the detail, see https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/long-term-planning/
We will also refer to the other very important consultation documents which members may wish to respond to themselves. One is the South Eastern re-franchising which includes some controversial proposals, including that the Ashford to Brighton service should be cut at Hastings, the MarshLink therefore becoming part of the South Eastern franchise – see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-south-eastern-rail-services
But more on that, and other matters, at the MLAG AGM.
MarshLink Action Group 2016 AGM
The MarshLink AGM will be held in the Rye Town Hall at 7.00 p.m. on 15 April.
Following the formal Annual General Meeting (at approximately 7.15pm) there will be presentations and a Q&A session with:
- Paul Best, Network Rail
- Martin Grier, Southern Railway
- Ray Chapman, Chairman, East Sussex Rail Alliance
- Roger Blake, Railfuture
East Sussex Alliance are a driving force for bringing Javelin services to our area.
Railfuture campaign for a bigger and better rail network.
CHAIRMAN’S BRIEF REPORT
We have had a year of problems, mostly (certainly not only) to the west of Rye. The Hastings – London line has been subject to significant and frequent delays, largely (but not wholly) resulting from the vast works underway at London Bridge Station (and still for a few more years to come). To the east of Rye, the Ashford – London CX route has not been so badly affected but still there have been delays. Recently, the Ashford – Brighton service has been shortened because of a landslip at Glynde and this is expected to take about two months to clear. We will have at out AGM a representative from Southern Railway who may be able to comment on these issues as well as our other long term issues.
Looking further into the future, we have received presentations at the last two MLAG AGMs about a proposed direct Javelin service between London and Rye, Hastings and Bexhill and a half-hourly service along the MarshLink. The plan, in essence, voiced until recently has been for an in-fill electrification scheme and a relatively short length of duelling: the reality, of course, is far more complicated with the obvious need to change the complicated track layout at Ashford and considerable signalling works. And this is how plans appeared to be progressing until last month when, at Amber Rudd’s Transport Summit, there were suggestions from speakers that physical electrification may not be viable now (contrary to the finding of the Mott MacDonald report mentioned last year) and, indeed, may not be necessary. The suggestion now appears to be to do much as previously suggested (but without electrifying the track) and operating hybrid or bi-modal trains (to be explained at the AGM). MLAG’s concerns about this proposal are many and these will be voiced at the meeting as the proposals are debated by the representatives of Network Rail, ESRA and Railfuture.
Stuart Harland, Chairman, MarshLink Action Group