Train services may be cut
TRAIN services out of Cooden Beach and Collington stations are under threat.
The plan is for fewer trains to stop there to enable a faster route from Hastings to Eastbourne.
The thinking was confirmed to the Observer this week by the Strategic Rail Authority.
Town MP Gregory Barker said: "They not only want to cut the direct link on the Victoria line, making travellers change trains at Eastbourne, they are also proposing a reduction in services at 'little-used' stations."
The proposal, also affecting Pevensey Bay and isolated Normans Bay, was outlined at last Friday's meeting of the Hastings and Bexhill Taskforce.
The MP said: "It is like they are trying to cut us off from the rest of the world!"
The proposals emanate from the SRA's Brighton Mainline Utilisation Study. Taskforce members hit back at the SRA's lack of consultation. The rail authority had not even bothered to include Rother council.
Mr Barker's argument is that the other coastal towns - whose population in total equals that of Brighton and Hove - are being sacrificed to the needs of the city.
"The SRA's reply was that they had been working on the study for a year and had been consulting at a higher level before going out to formal consultation - this at a meeting attended by the leader of the county council, the county transport director, the director of SEEDA and others!"
Lashing SRA's references to its consultation policy of "iterative optioneering," the MP said: "They have said that they cannot justify empty seats. I said that if they were concerned about empty seats they needed a strategy to fill them so there is a viable service.
"The SRA's proposals don't have a regeneration objective and none of their proposals have an environmental structure so they are done in total isolation of what we are trying to achieve."
The MP says the SRA's plans will make travel to Gatwick and the capital difficult for the elderly, make nonsense of hopes of attracting Londoners to the De La Warr arts centre when completed, will discourage young families from using Bexhill as a commuter base and will discourage inward investment to the area.
"You won't get people from Silicon Valley jumping on a train to Bexhill or Hastings. If they find they have to change at Eastbourne they won't read any further..."
A spokesman for the Strategic Rail Authority said: "We are going out to stakeholders and getting their views. Last Friday's meeting was part of that.
"All the views will be fed back into the consultation and will be considered when the decision is taken."
The decision will be taken at the end of December.