Public to have say on railway line closure

RYE rail users will have the chance to tackle train operators over plans to close the Rye line.

The line between Hastings and Ashford is to be closed for nine weeks from January to allow maintenance work to take place on a tunnel.

Now local rail action group Marshlink has organised a public meeting which will take place at Rye Community Centre on Friday September 30 at 7.15pm.

Network Rail and Southern Railways have agreed to attend and will answer questions on the proposals.

Rye MP Amber Rudd will also be there, along with local councillors and representatives from rail action groups from across the affected region.

Presentations and debate will cover the work to be undertaken,the necessity for the whole line, any alternatives to complete closure and the bus replacement service.

Marshlink chairman, Stuart Harland, said: “Other interested groups and essential users who rely on the train service as passengers or for providing their livelihood are also invited including local educational institutions, tourist boards, hoteliers, Chambers of Commerce and taxi firms.

“The MarshLink line is used by a wide range of people including, more so nowadays, by commuters, not just from Rye but even from Bexhill and Hastings preferring to take the fast service from Ashford to London StPancras.

“The trains are frequently overcrowded and all those passengers will have to consider how they will go about their normal activities without a train service if no alternative to total closure can be found.

“I have received comments and questions on a great range of topics, particularly questioning the need for the works to be undertaken at all; the possibility of operating trains throughout the day to the east of the Ore Tunnel and servicing them either via the tunnel at night or via Ashford; and the unpredictability of scheduling works in winter.

“But we need to hear the views of the representatives of Network Rail and Southern Railways to properly understand the situation and then have an informed debate.

“MLAG believes the works are necessary and, subject to hearing the views expressed at the meeting, will be pushing for the repair of the embankment to the west of Ashford Station to be included in those works.”