With more strikes looming on the Southern rail network, and with the franchise for Southeastern rail being put out to tender in 2017, local MPs have stepped up their campaign for High Speed rail services.
Amber Rudd and Huw Merriman met chief executive of Network Rail, Mark Carne, to press for the re-tendering of the rail franchise to include a condition that any operator of the Southeastern network will have to operate a High Speed service from Ashford to Bexhill, Hastings and Rye.
The MPs have also written to rail minister, Paul Maynard, to press for this project to be supported by the Department for Transport.
Ms Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, said: “Passengers in our communities are being severely disrupted by the unacceptable and damaging strikes on Southern called by the RMT but they will not be served by the new trains which are at the centre of this dispute. Ultimately, we need a solution to the issues of capacity, speed and reliability on local services. This is the reward that High Speed rail offers to our constituents.”
Mr Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, said “Our recent meetings with Network Rail and Southeastern Rail have led to positive developments for our campaign to bring High Speed rail to East Sussex.
“Thanks to recent advances in train technology, a hybrid train can run on electric and charge itself to cover the distances where electrification is not in place.
“Trains have just started running on Great Western Railways in this manner so we are pressing Network Rail, the Department for Transport and train companies wishing to run the franchise, to include this design when bidding for the service.” Following the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he will look to approve increased spending on infrastructure projects, the MPs have written to both the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport to demonstrate the economic case for High Speed Rail and to press for its inclusion in any new Government projects. They added “It is essential that local residents and businesses continue with their fantastic support of this High Speed Rail project. The current situation with Southern services makes the case for improvements even stronger and motivates us to deliver this project for our rail users who have had to tolerate severe service shortcomings.”
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