Rail future is moving forward but slowly

A Southern train ENGPPP00120101215144317
A Southern train ENGPPP00120101215144317

The future of rail services in the area was the main theme when the Marshlink rail action group held its AGM at Rye Town Hall last Friday.

Chairman Stuart Harland confirmed that plans for a high speed link through Rye, with super fast Javelin trains are still progressing, albeit slowly.

It has been recognised the project planning still has a long way to go.

He said: “It was at last year’s Marshlink AGM that Network Rail (NR) first presented their proposals for extending the existing Javelin service (the HS1 service from London St. Pancras to Ashford) to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill.

“Since that time the project has developed and the current thinking was presented by Lisa Goodman, Senior Development Manager of NR.

“It has to be recognised the project planning still has a long way to go but working party meetings have been taking place over the last year with local authorities, MPs and other interested parties to develop the business case for the project.

“This includes the preparation of a report by consulting engineers Mott MacDonald on behalf of East Sussex County Council, Rother District Council and Hastings Borough Council on the regeneration benefits of the project.

“The report has not yet been produced but Keith Glazier of ESCC was present and confirmed it is soon to be made available. NR has commissioned its own internal work (referred to as the Guide to Railway Process (GRIP) to substantiate costs with engineering surveys and estimates and this is expected next month, in April.

The basics of the project are substantially as presented last year with line speeds generally expected to be 60-90 mph from Ashford to Doleham and 40-60 mph onwards to Hastings.

But the ongoing big question for NR, and of concern to MLAG from an environmental point of view and compatibility with rolling stock in the surrounding lines, is whether the power source would be third rail (as MLAG would prefer) or overhead.

“NR acknowledges the difficulty of overhead power along the Marsh with gantries having to be built on (obviously) marsh land and with the strong winds.

“Whichever, some 30 miles of track would need to be laid but, apparently, only about half a mile of dualled track to the west of Rye.”