The proposed high speed rail link between Bexhill, Hastings and Rye would be a ‘game changer’ for the area and would be worth more than £350million to the economy, according to a report released today (Friday, October 9).
Councils, politicians and business owners are vying for the Javelin service from London to Ashford to be extended to Bexhill via Rye and Hastings along the Marshlink, which they say would cut journey times to the capital by around 20 minutes.
The business case for the HS1 extension was presented at a public meeting at the De La Warr Pavilion this morning.
Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman chaired the meeting and described the proposals as a ‘game changer for the area’.
“Being able to get on board with this project is incredibly exciting,” he said.
“We have talked about this being a game changer for the area and I absolutely believe that it is, and to me, it is essential that the whole community gets on board with this project and really makes it happen.
“I’m a firm believer in politics, that projects like this only occur if there is a huge weight of opinion behind it.”
Stephen Cox from Mott MacDonald, which was commissioned to do the report, said the access to HS1 would create 629 jobs and generate £27.4million per year, and £354.3million over the next 30 years.
The report claims the Javelin train service would support £19.9million worth of business growth a year and 667 years of house building.
Day trippers to the area would significantly increase due to the shortened travel time and would be worth £4.7million by 2028.
Mr Cox described the benefits as ‘substantial’.
The report was commissioned by East Sussex County Council, Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council.
It currently takes around 112 minutes to get to London from Bexhill but this could be reduced to 78 minutes with the Javelin trains.
Hastings to London would take 68 minutes instead of around 100, and from Rye it would be under an hour rather than up to 85 minutes.
Upgrading the current lines to London via Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne would not be as viable as electrifying the Marshlink, according to the campaign group Railfuture.
Mr Merriman said the next step is to convince Network Rail and the Department for Transport to accept their proposal.
A representative from Network Rail said it is currently undergoing a study of Kent’s railways and the proposal will be considered as part of that review as the Marshlink starts in Kent.
The MP urged residents, business owners and campaigners to lobby the government in favour of the HS1 extension to try and build pressure for it.
To read the full report visit: eastsussex.gov.uk/highspeedrail.
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