MarshLink upgrade update
(From Rail Future Dec 2015)
“Economic Case: High Speed Rail to Hastings and Bexhill” was given its public launch in early-October. New MP for Bexhill and Battle Huw Merriman led the presentation of the consultants’ report commissioned jointly by East Sussex County, Rother District and Hastings Borough Councils. The report analyses the economic benefits generated by being on HS1’s map.
Later that month Network Rail held their first ‘wider stakeholders’ workshop for the draft Kent Area Route Study which will include options for the infrastructure investment needed to enable HS1 services to join Marshlink at Ashford and cut journey times to Hastings and Bexhill. Consultation is expected next September. Railfuture participated in both of those October events.
Meanwhile Southern are investigating conversion of some of their three-car Electrostars to bi-mode operation. It might take a couple of years yet but as well as a 50% capacity increase such trains would only use diesel power across Marshlink, and then existing third rail between Hastings and Brighton. Let’s hope!
Javelin foretaste: Poppy Train Express for East Sussex
The East Sussex coastal communities of Hastings and Bexhill, which expect to be served by trains using HS1, and Eastbourne which can not, savoured the first visit by a Javelin train earlier this year as part of Hastings & Rye MP Amber Rudd’s second Hastings Rail Summit. Ahead of Remembrance Day, Southeastern with UK Railtours then ran ‘Operation Javelin’ with a pair of the six-car trains, including tickets for local return journeys between Hastings and Eastbourne calling at Bexhill.
THWART-ED NO LONGER!
Sunday 13 December 2015 will mark the successful conclusion of a decade-long campaign by redoubtable residents of Winchelsea and Three Oaks, and in the surrounding areas, for the restoration of all-day services on Sundays. Ever since the December 2005 timetable change, mere token ‘Parliamentary’-style services have operated, at the very beginning and very end of Sundays. Instead there will now be alternating two-hourly services at each station – eight trains each way at each station. Doleham and Ore are unaffected.
This latest triumph builds on the success of THWART’s previous campaign to restore all-day weekday and Saturday services, achieved in December 2010 when similar alternating two-hourly services were introduced.
The effect of these changes on patronage has been dramatic, if the ORR’s station usage estimates are any guide. In the last full year before the December 2005 timetable’s service cuts, in 2004/05 Three Oaks had 8574 users and Winchelsea 7728. Annual usage at each station then slumped to barely 500! Since the December 2010 timetable’s restoration of all-day Monday-Saturday services usage has recovered, to 6912 at Three Oaks and 6640 at Winchelsea in 2013/14. The ORR’s 2014/15 estimates are due out around the time of this December’s timetable change.
Now residents of, and visitors to, those two centres and their surrounding Brede Valley will be able to make rail based weekend as well as Sunday return journeys .
A next target will be all-day and every-day Marshlink services for Ore, a growing area of north-east Hastings which includes Ore Valley Sussex Coast College.
There are some understandable concerns developing about the impact of the new Javelin HS1 services on the local services at the smaller stations. It is currently anticipated that the new Bexhill-St. Leonards Warrior Square-Hastings-Rye-Ashford International, and on to St. Pancras International, services will be hourly and run all-day and every day. Many local stakeholders are also expecting that the upgraded and new Marsh Link infrastructure should then be able to support another hourly, literally all-stations, all-day and every-day local service. It will be crucially important for this local need to be articulated very clearly during Network Rail’s development of their draft Kent Area Route Study, as the desired service pattern will define the upgraded infrastructure to be built. Early in 2016 there will be two public opportunities: at Marshlink Action Group’s AGM and Hasting & Rye MP Amber Rudd’s Rail Summit.The email is KentRouteStudy@networkrail.co .uk and Network Rail are already asking for local aspirations!
Always read more at www.railfuture.orq.uk/Marshlink
From RailSE (Railfuture in London and the South East) December 2015