Rye line at risk without a high speed rail link

trains at Rye ENGSNL00120110726162215
trains at Rye ENGSNL00120110726162215

The Rye railway-line could be at risk of closing in the future without High Speed 1 warns rail action group Marshlink.

The line narrowly avoided closure during the Beeching cut-backs .

Marshlink chairman Stuart Harland fears it could be facing the same fate when the current diesel units reach the end of their life.

He said: “Not wishing to be alarmist or sensationalist, there will be no more diesel units to replace them and there may still be no business case for electrification.”

“Our rail system at the moment has several constraints. It is, substantially, a single track and diesel operated line surrounded by electric trains and track.

“The diesel trains are only 10 years old but are already suffering from some mechanical issues. With a service depot in South London which is only accessible via Hastings. So any train failures directly affect the service, there being no supporting units available from surrounding services.

“Meanwhile, passenger demand is growing so a current train operating at two cars per hour results in increasingly overcrowded trains.

There are already 101 season ticket holders between Rye and London. It was noticed, when the Hastings line was closed last winter, that commuters from Hastings and Bexhill were using the MarshLink to get to the HS1 service from Ashford and are probably continuing to do so.

“Rye is a tourist-dependent town and improved transport links can only improve business and regeneration/economic growth.

“Generally there would be two trains per hour, so better connections with the Charing Cross service). The hourly train would be a direct service to London with a travel time of under an hour and there would be more capacity and the prospect of later trains. There would be greater reliability from a large fleet of trains. The more frequent service would be a more attractive route for Eurostar passengers, so perhaps Ashford’s position as an International station could be restored.”