The case to bring high speed rail to Hastings is ‘securely made’ according to East Sussex County Council.
Plans to extend the line running from London St Pancras to Ashford so that services stop in Rye, Hastings, and Bexill would slash journey times between the coast to the capital.
Chancellor George Osborne’s recent Budget stated that the Department for Transport had asked the rail industry to include plans for high speed services to the East Sussex coast in the forthcoming Kent Route Study.
But at an East Sussex County Council meeting on Tuesday (July 14) John Hodges (Lab, Hastings - St Helens and Silverhill) suggested that HS1 was a ‘figment of the imagination’.
Rupert Simmons (Con, Heathfield), ESCC’s cabinet member for the economy, said he was ‘curious’ that Mr Hodges was raising question marks about some of their infrastructure programmes.
He added: “[On] HS1, we jointly commissioned with Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council a business case report from Mott MacDonald and that will be published on Thursday of this week at the task force.
“There is every encouragement that the case is securely made. This now goes forward to the Kent Route Plan as was expected and will be the consideration for the 2019 window.
“At the moment there is no doubting the progress of that programme.”
Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd has been pushing strongly for improved rail services in her constituency and was able to secure the visit of a high speed Javelin train to Hastings for her second annual rail summit in January, as well as the attendance of rail minister Claire Perry.
She welcomed the Government’s commitment to their ‘ambitious plans’ in the Budget, and back in January said the ‘green light was well and truly lit for high speed for our homes’.
Mrs Perry told January’s summit that Hastings was currently ‘poorly served by rail connections to London’. Once Network Rail had completed the Kent Route Study, which will include bringing HS1 to Hastings, this would then influence the advice the rail industry gave to Government on future spending priorities.
She added: “So while I don’t pretend it’s a done deal, I can say that steps are being taken to get us there.”
Do you think high speed rail will come to Hastings, Rye, and Bexhill? Comment below or email the newsdesk.
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