MLAG PRESS RELEASE – 16 March 2017
CONSULTATION ON MARSHLINK HIGH SPEED (and other issues)
Two very important rail consultation documents have been issued this week. These papers are very wide ranging but our particular interest relates to proposals for the proposed extension of the Javelin service from London St Pancras via Ashford and directly on to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill (maybe Eastbourne too).
These documents will be studied by MLAG together with the other local rail action groups but, after a brief look, we can comment:
(1) The Kent Route Study – see https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/long-term-planning/
Firstly, it should be explained that the reference to Kent is rather misleading – perversely the MarshLink line is considered to be a Kent Route Line.
This Study is issued by Network Rail setting out long term infrastructure options along the Kent Route Lines. From Rye’s perspective, the most important of these is the potential MarshLink High Speed (“MLHS”) service: for the avoidance of doubt, there is no intention that the train would operate at hi-speed along the MarshLink, just a little bit faster.
The Study identifies the many track works required along the line and the need to construct a path from the MarshLink line to the HS1 line at Ashford. Along the MarshLink, one much discussed issue is the means of propulsion to be used: so the Study also raises the issue of power along the MarshLink, whether overhead at a one-off cost of £250 – 500m; 3rd rail (MLAG’s preference) at a cost of £100 – 250m; or the use of bi-mode trains (i.e. use a variant Javelin which is able to operate with a diesel engine or from batteries when travelling on non-electrified track) where the cost would fall on the train operator.
Beyond the issue of the works necessary to bring about the MLHS, we also have an interest in the timing of the works – i.e. when can we get on a train direct to London. The upgrading of the MarshLink is currently considered to be an “unfunded” scheme (that would need explaining at another time) and therefore the timescale has been considered a far future project. It will take effort to bring the project forward in timing.
This is a complicated series of documents and so MLAG has arranged for a member of NR’s Strategic Planning team to speak at MLAG’s Annual General Meeting (date yet to be confirmed but penciled in for 3 May) to comment on the Study and endeavour to respond to questions.
The response date on the Study is 30 June.
(2) The South Eastern re-franchising – see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-south-eastern-rail-services
This document is issued by the Department for Transport and is a consultation on the franchise terms to apply to the new operator of South Eastern services from the end of the current franchise in December 2018. Of particular interest to us is the operation of the MarshLink High Speed services (when built) and whether the MarshLink line will be transferred from the Southern to the South Eastern franchise: but while the line is serviced by diesel trains, MLAG feels the operator is unlikely to be changed..
There are various stakeholder and public consultation events referred to in the documents and MLAG will be attending to gain more information.
The consultation response date is 23 May.
More information will be provided on these documents as MLAG’s understanding increases.