BATTLE MP Greg Barker welcomed two lots of good news for local rail commuters on the Hastings to London line this week.
Not only did the Battle to Robertsbridge section of the Hastings to London line finally re-open on Monday morning, but commuters from Battle station are set to benefit from a new express service to London from January 2015.
Following a series of landslips, Mr Barker met senior Network Rail representatives, at the landslip site at Whatlington, to discuss the problems and how the line can be made more resilient for the future.
On Tuesday April 1, a planned programme of maintenance and line improvements got underway.
Meanwhile Rail Minister Stephen Hammond confirmed the new Direct Award franchise for Southeastern, which will include a faster limited-stopping service between Hastings and London from January 2015.
The new service, which will run fast from Hastings to Tunbridge Wells in the morning and evening, will stop at Battle and will be in addition to existing services which stop at all rural stations.
Mr Barker said: “Finally local commuters have some good news. Our main line to London is back up and running and Battle commuters can look forward to a faster service from January 2015.
“Having visited the landslip at Whatlington last Friday, I appreciate what a major engineering task this was for Network Rail. The exceptionally wet winter has highlighted serious weaknesses in this Victorian-built railway line which is the main route to Tunbridge Wells and London for hundreds of local commuters.
“I have been in regular contact with Network Rail throughout this period of disruption and have sought assurance that the whole line will be thoroughly inspected to identify any further areas of concern. It is essential that they have the investment in place now to ensure it is more resilient in the future.
“I was pleased to hear from senior Network Rail representatives that they recognise the Hastings to London line is a key commuter route. Over the winter they have carried out a full inspection of the line and have a planned programme of embankment maintenance and improvements which begins this month.
“I will continue to hold regular updates with Network Rail to ensure this programme remains on schedule and local residents never have to endure such a winter of commuter misery again.”