RAIL users in the Rye area are sending out an S.O.S. - Save Our Rail Services.
Campaigners gathered at Winchelsea Station before Christmas to make their point about the lack of a Sunday stopping service.
Around 50 people took part in the protest.
They were joined by Rye MP Amber Rudd; the UK’s leading rail campaign group Railfuture, and other local rail action groups East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA); Marshlink Rail Action Group (MLAG) and St Leonard’s and Hastings Rail Improvement program (SHRIMP), the Chairman of Icklesham Parish Council, and representatives from Guestling Parish Council.
John Spencer, together with Monika Betson Co-chairmen of THWART (Three Oaks and Wincheslea Action for Rail Transport, addressed the crowd reminding those gathered that THWART has been campaigning for eight years for a return of the seven day services.
There had been success with the return of a 6 six day service, but at present there is still no regular service on a Sunday.
Three Oaks on a Sunday has no public transport and is cut off,.
Winchelsea station, despite being on the 1066 route for walkers and the Sustrans cycle route, has no possibility of developing Sunday Tourism in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
John said, “Although regular weekday services were reinstated three years ago, tourists from the UK and overseas who want to visit the area have not been arriving by train due to the virtual non existence rail of services on Sundays.
“Currently the two stations are only served by a train early morning and late in the evening. We call on the Department for Transport and Southern Rail to review their services and finally put our tourist stops back into the timetable.”
Amber Rudd said: “It is inspiring to see so many people get behind this cause to get more regular services returned to rural communities like Winchelsea and Three Oaks.
“It is crucial that these communities are not cut off. This is a really important cause and one that has my full support.
“I understand the importance of maintaining and increasing the services to these rural stations, and I will do all I can with activists and resident to fight for better services.”
Roger Blake of Railfuture expressed disappointment that the current train specification for the new forthcoming franchise from the Department of Transport actually reduces minimum train service requirements to the two stations on a Sunday.