re: Kent Area Route Study Consultation
MarshLink Action Group (“MLAG”) responds below to the Study – our comments are limited to the MarshLink line proposals in the Study.
We would like to thank the authors of the Study for their very well written documents and Network Rail for enabling Paul Best to visit us in Rye to present the Study to our members.
We should first advise you that MLAG is the rail user group working for the improvement of rail services along the MarshLink line between Ashford and Hastings, centred in Rye. Information about MLAG can be found on our website – www.mlag.org.uk .
Rye, and its surrounding communities, is a socially deprived area, with local jobs largely dependant on the season, particularly tourism and farming. We will leave it to other respondents with more detailed data to enlarge on the socio-economic aspects of this corner of the UK. It is worthy of note that there has been a noticeable increase in commuter numbers in Rye since the introduction of the Javelin service.
The road transport system of East Sussex is predominantly radial, directed towards London: but from Rye the train service is, effectively, east-west. The current Javelin service from Ashford has already improved the speed of travel to and from London by train and weaned some travellers away from cars and rail-heading. However, with the railway operating on single track for most of the Ashford – Hastings section of the line only an hourly service on the MarshLink is possible and a major cause of complaint by passengers. It also means that the timing of connections is fraught with problems when trains run late.
A direct Javelin service to London (particularly to St. Pancras with its many onward connections) would improve travel for these passengers and, potentially, induce inward investment.
Two of MLAG’s Objectives are:
– to obtain a direct train service to London
– to obtain two trains per hour along the line.
The investment in the MarshLink High Speed infrastructure as presented in the Study and the Technical Appendix would bring these Objectives within reach.
MLAG’s response to the Kent Route Study
MLAG is wholly supportive of the issues described in the Study, in particular:
– to increase line speeds along the MarshLink;
– to create a path from the MarshLink to HS1; and
– to introduce a Javelin service, extending the London St.Pancras to Ashford service to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill (and, indeed, Eastbourne if feasible). This repeats our support given in our response to the South Eastern Franchise Public Consultation.
MLAG also strongly commends the proposed “incremental approach” referred to in section 6.1.7 of the Study’s Technical Appendix. We trust the line speed improvements along the MarshLink can be undertaken at the earliest opportunity to enable the MarshLink line to develop even before any Javelin service can be introduced. In this regard we would point out that the current track only permits one train per hour but the infrastructure improvements would permit two trains per hour.
We would be very happy to enlarge on any of our comments above if you wish us to do so.