Rail meeting will address issues faced by rail users on the Marshlink line

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RYE area rail users will have a chance to raise issues affecting them when the Marshlink Action Group holds its AGM at Rye Town Hall.

Attending the meeting, which takes place on Friday March 15 at 7.15pm, will be Rye MP Amber Rudd and a representative from Southern Railway.

MLAG chairman Stuart Harland said members would have a variety of issues to raise with Southern Railway.

Mr Harland said: “year ago we were coming to the end of the “blockade” of the line with replacement buses, caused by works along the line, predominantly work on the Ore Tunnel.

“The tunnel works were repairs, left for far too long until full closure was required.

“The other works, much discussed at the time, were with the aim of increasing the speed of the line.

“The works were done at great expense but, so far, there has been only a derisory improvement in the timetable.

“Perhaps more esoteric, but related to the line speed issue, is the re-franchising of the line.

“Last year the MLAG Committee spent a very long time reviewing, commenting on and making suggestions about what this line needs have included in two new franchise to improve our service.

“Towards the end of last year there was considerable publicity in the national press about the Department for Transport’s franchise evaluation process for the West Coast franchise.

“The DfT considered this process was so unfit for purpose that it “Paused” the evaluation of all ongoing re-franchisings so until the “Play” button is pressed, potentially a very long time in the future, there is little incentive for the train operating company to improve the service. That is, unless MLAG members are prepared to make a fuss.

“There are many other issues members could raise, for example - capacity - can we get more carriages on each train; improve line operation speed even if not required to by the DfT franchise; better connections at Ashford and also onto buses; the state of Ashford Station; what’s happening with Winchelsea level crossing ?”

“Come along and make your views known. Joining the meeting will be a representative from Southern Railway to respond to questions and Amber Rudd MP.”