Hastings to Ashford railway works are on track

Works at Doleham Bridge
Works at Doleham Bridge

RAIL bosses have scotched growing rumours that work on the Hastings to Ashford rail line is running behind schedule.

There have been no trains at all running between Hastings and Ashford since the line closed in January to allow work to be carried out on Ore Tunnel and other sections of the line.

Passengers have faced long bus journeys in sub-zero temperatures.

Network Rail’s route director Fiona Taylor said this week: “All works are proceeding well and on target and there are no significant issues. We are on schedule to complete the work and re-open the line on March 11 as originally planned.”

It is thought rumours of an extension to the line closure gathered momentum after Network Rail contacted residents in the Three Oaks and Doleham area to say that work on two bridges was scheduled for 13 and 16 weeks.

Stuart Harland, chairman of rail action group Marshlink, said: “These periods appear in two different letters from Network Rail to residents of Three Oaks and Doleham but we understand these periods relate to disruption for them as residents rather than works on the line.

“MLAG has discussed this with Network Rail and Southern Railways and has been assured the works will be completed on time – the initial, informal, response from Network Rail was the suggestion of a delay is “absolute nonsense.”.”

Fiona Taylor said: “We are pleased that the improvement works in the tunnel and those being carried out to upgrade track, bridges and embankments along the route between Ashford to Hastings are progressing well.

“We thank passengers for their continued patience while we make these enhancements which should lead to a better train service in the long-term.

“The minor works to 18 structures outside of the tunnel, comprising footbridges, road bridges and culverts are proceeding as planned.”

Work is also progressing well on the Ore Tunnel, which was the main reason for the line closure.

The main side wall repair works have now been completed, as have water management works.

The main crown strengthening works preparation is finished and all brickwork and strengthening is complete.

Work is now underway to apply concrete to the tunnel roof with concrete being sprayed onto the main brickwork structure.

At Doleham, the new span deck of the bridge has been installed and the new surface is being applied.

At Three Oaks, the temporary pedestrian scaffold bridge is completed, and work to divert services is underway in preparation for demolition of the existing bridge.

Marshlink Action Group holds its AGM at 7.15pm on Wednesday March 14 at The George Hotel in Rye.

Stuart Harland said: “The date of the meeting was specifically chosen to be after completion of the works so the meeting could be forward thinking.”