Railfuture campaigns for electrification of the Uckfield line
You may already be familiar with the report by former Virgin boss Chris Gibb to the DfT, published on 23 June, on “Changes to improve the performance of the Southern network and train services, and restore passenger confidence” and our website article http://www.railfuture.org.uk/article1744-Southern-could-be-buzzin two days later (which includes a link to view the report).
He recommended in Appendix 5 that the Turbostar-operated Uckfield line should be modernised with electrification for dual-voltage Electrostars, not just for the various benefits to that line’s passengers but also for the much wider benefits to the performance and resilience of the whole Southern, and associated Thameslink, network. We have therefore revived our electrification campaign begun three years ago and are seeking maximum branch members’ engagement to help turn it into a successful achievement, as this has ramifications for almost the entire GTR network, not just one line.
The MP for Wealden Nus Ghani has already sprung into action, as local members may have seen on her website at https://www.nusghani.org.uk/news/secretary-state-accepts-nus-ghanis-invitation-meet-local-rail-campaigners and at https://www.nusghani.org.uk/news/nus-ghani-chairs-roundtable-attended-key-local-rail-stakeholders and also in some recent press publicity http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/politics/transport-minister-to-meet-wealden-rail-campaigners-1-8060972 There can be no doubt that having the key local MP championing this cause is a pivotal success factor, as we are seeing with the campaign for the extension of High Speed services across MarshLink to serve Rye, Hastings and Bexhill, possibly Eastbourne, championed by the MPs for Hastings & Rye and Bexhill & Battle.
She has made it very clear to us, as the only national independent pro-rail group with around 500 London & South East branch members, that she would much appreciate our support. In particular we want to show this support with messages to the Transport Secretary and his Rail Minister drawing attention to the benefits to services which you would experience either at your local Southern or Thameslink station, or when using these GTR services to and from elsewhere in the region, even beyond.
Our suggested approach is for branch members to send a typed letter to Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP at Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR, with a copy to Paul Maynard MP also at that address, and to Nus Ghani MP at House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. Please also be sure to send a copy to us, either as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Branch Vice-Chairman Roger Blake at 70 Dynevor Road, Stoke Newington, London, N16 0DX.
If you are one of Chris Grayling’s constituents in Epsom & Ewell [Ashtead, Epsom, Ewell East stations] or one of Nus Ghani’s [Uckfield, Buxted, Crowborough, Eridge stations] you can contact him by email at email@example.com or her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Their websites for local opportunities to meet and introduce yourself as a Railfuture member for this particular topic, for example at a constituency surgery, are http://chrisgrayling.net/ and https://www.nusghani.org.uk/
Please resist the temptation to raise in your submission to Chris Grayling any wider points about electrification elsewhere in the country; for this particular local campaign to be successful it must remain specific and tightly-focused. For your background information Railfuture’s recent press release on the subject can be read here: http://www.railfuture.org.uk/Press+release+20th+July+2017
Delivering on this over the coming few weeks will greatly enhance Railfuture’s position when it comes to the autumn meeting which Nus Ghani is setting up for rail campaigners such as ourselves to meet Chris Grayling and which he has agreed to.
Please act on this before Tuesday 5 September, when Parliament will return from its summer recess. We look forward to seeing your letters to the Transport Secretary and his Rail Minister.
Roger Blake, Vice-Chairman, London & South East regional branch
Chris Page, National Chairman