Benefits to our town will be huge

Your correspondent D.D. Shadwell (Bexhill Observer, July 24) raises a number of valid points about the Brighton to Ashford service, and the planned upgrade to the Marshlink line.

The difficulty is that the line between Ore and Ashford is one of only two in the southeast that is unelectrified, and therefore is dependent upon a limited pool of diesel rolling stock. Carbon emissions targets and a renewed emphasis on electrification of the national network means that no further diesel trains are being built at present, and there is competition from elsewhere for existing stock.

This means that there is no short-term solution.

The long-term answer has always been to electrify the route, but for a business case to be successful this has to be part of a more strategic plan, which is to extend High Speed Javelin trains to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill.

The benefits for our town will be huge, with the journey time to London being reduced to just 78 minutes (as opposed to two hours plus in the rush hour at present). Such a scheme is a big investment, requires planning and will have to take its place in the queue nationally. In the meantime, there are at least two alternative trains each hour between Hastings - Eastbourne and Lewes (with onward connections to/from Brighton) which usually have plenty of spare seats.

The new high speed service will run via the Thames Gateway and Stratford, which is where future economic growth is likely to be over the next 30 years, connecting Bexhill to business hubs at Ebbsfleet and Canary Wharf.

The St Pancras terminus is also useful for those connecting beyond London via Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston to destinations in the Midlands, North of England and Scotland.

This service will complement – and alleviate pressure on – the existing mainline services to Charing Cross and Victoria, which will continue to operate and which will remain more convenient to reach some parts of London.

Richard Madge

Bexhill Rail Action Group

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