Rye MP Amber Rudd says she is pushing hard for a high speed rail line at Rye to be moved forward by two years – from 2019 to 2017.
A member of the MP’s office said: “It is absolutely Amber’s intention to bring high-speed services to Hastings and Rye as soon as possible, but clearly there exist financial and practical issues which need to be finalised.
“We have an absolute commitment from Network Rail to complete this project alongside support from the Department for Transport, local rail groups, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, and both local and county councils.
“With regards to the proposed timeframe of these works, modelling and design work will begin in the coming months.
“A consultant has also been employed to make the case for the regenerative benefit of bringing high-speed services to Hastings and Rye. Currently the biggest barrier to completing these works sooner is the availability of contractors/suppliers to complete the major signalling work required, but discussions are ongoing to ascertain if an alternative contractor can be found to ensure our vision for high-speed rail is realised as soon as possible.”
Stuart Harland, chairman of the Marshlink Action Group, believes Rye being part of a high speed link would help revitalise the town and be good for the local economy.
But he urged caution on expectations of the time scale.
Speaking at a recent meeting of Rye Town Council’s public services committee, he said: “I cannot say if a high speed train will stop at Rye. No one knows that at present.
“2019 is still the key. The chance that it will start before then is remote.
“The plan will involve altering the level crossings at East Guldeford on the A259. The Highways Agency will need to be involved.”
Mr Harland emphasised that the proposals do not mean that the Marsh Link will become a high-speed line.
“This remains a common misconception in Rye. However, the maximum line speed should be increased from its current limit of 60mph to 90mph on parts of the track.”
The important thing for Rye, insists MLAG, is that Rye’s single track line is dualled and electrified.
Both the Javelin and regular electric trains that will replace the current diesel units have a faster acceleration and braking capability that will help to improve journey times locally. Amber says it is her vision that high speed trains will stop at Rye.