Fresh push to bring high speed rail service to town

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Campaigners are making a fresh push to bring a high speed rail service to Bexhill in the next five years.

A rail summit held in Hastings last week, hosted by the town’s MP Amber Rudd, saw presentations from senior mangers from Southern Rail, Southeastern, Network Rail and Hitachi, as well as Rail Minister Claire Perry MP.

The showpiece of the event was a special promotional round trip from Hastings to Eastbourne by a Class 395 High Speed ‘Javelin’ train, stopping for a brief photocall at Bexhill station on its return journey.

Campaigners hope that a regular high-speed service can be introduced by 2020, reducing the journey time from Bexhill to London to just 78 minutes - much to the delight of commuters.

However, the project requires capital investment of more than £100m.

This includes the electrification and upgrading of the Marshlink line from Hastings to Ashford via Rye.

Bexhill Rail Action Group spokesman Richard Madge said: “The message from the Minister was very clear - all stakeholders need to work together to make this vision a reality.

“Network Rail is developing the technical case, and East Sussex County Council is undertaking a cost/benefit analysis.

“This should be completed later this spring, and if successful the project would be included in Network Rail’s national plan from 2019.

“The Minister confirmed that regeneration benefits will be taken into account, which is a positive factor because this would be a major spur to improving the local economy in both Bexhill and Hastings.”

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd says she plans to launch a campaign to bring the high speed service to the area.

And Ms Rudd is even pushing for the work to begin as early as 2017.

She said: “The green light is well and truly lit for high speed rail to our homes.

“We need to continue to show our determination to get this essential infrastructure delivered.

“All the speakers encouraged us, as the community to speak up to make our campaign clear and vocal to ensure delivery.

“That is why I am launching a rail campaign to demonstrate our support for this exciting transformation for our rail connectivity.”

To find out more about the work of the Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG) visit www.bexhillrailaction.org.uk

Alternatively, check out the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bexhillrailactiongroup