n ONE RAIL user at last Friday’s public meeting summed up fears in Rye when he asked “Is it right that a town of 5,000 people should be potentially isolated during the winter months?”
The meeting was held to address concerns by rail users over plans to shut the line down completely in January and February, while repair work is carried out to the Ore Tunnel.
People came to the meeting with intelligent questions and constructive ideas but were confronted with fait accompli.
Rail bosses annnounced that contracts had been signed and dates agreed and there was no way the work could be done at any other time of year.
Requests for at least some service on the line at peak times, to allow passengers to get to work or school, were refused on grounds of cost or practicality.
The best they could offer was a promise to look into a slightly faster bus service from Rye to Ashford that ddoes not deviate to all the smaller stations across Romney Marsh.
But this is if the buses can run at all. Network Rail is taking a huge gamble with the weather and recent winters have seen their fair share of ice and snow with roads impassable.
Rye MP Amber Rudd is right to call for compensation for rail season ticket holders.
Season tickets are not cheap and passengers do not pay in order to have long, uncomfortable bus journeys twice a day for more than two months in the winter.
We accept the work needs to be done, but surely a better compromise could have been found with a little more flexibility.
Once again it’s the rail passengers that are left with the thin end of the wedge.