Angie Doll, newly-appointed managing director of Southern Rail, visited 1066 Country for a full day tour of the East Coastway and Marshlink from Eastbourne to Ashford International.
Her visit on Friday, June 7 came one year on from the introduction of the new rail timetable for the East Coastway, and was organised by the Hastings & Rother Rail Users Alliance (HRRUA).
Cllr Terry Byrne, chairman of Rother District Council (RDC); Cllr Doug Oliver, leader of RDC; and Cllr Deirdre Earl-Williams welcomed Ms Doll at Bexhill Station for coffee at the De La Warr Pavilion, where she met community representatives and local employers.
This was followed by a working lunch in Rye, at the Mermaid Inn, which also brought together local government representatives and key employers from the area.
The theme of the day was ‘rail connectivity and the area economy’, with both events providing the opportunity for local businesses to thank Southern for the effectiveness of the new timetable, at the same time emphasising to Ms Doll the importance of a good, reliable rail service for recruitment and retention of staff, for their clients and for their businesses to succeed.
Angie Doll said: “I’d like to thank the Rail Users Alliance for recognising the very real improvements we made for passengers using our East Coastway service a year ago. The changes we made came about following extensive consultation with HRRUA and other stakeholders from the community.
“We have doubled the length of most trains between Brighton and Hastings and increased the frequency of services by a third between Eastbourne and Hastings.
“We now have better connections with high-speed services at Ashford International, saving passengers time, and a new late evening train one hour later than before, from Ashford International to Hastings via Rye. On top of that, Southern trains are more punctual now than they have been for four years.”
Hugh Sharp, chairman of HRRUA, said: “Faster and more reliable rail connections are critical for future prosperity in this part of East Sussex. This very successful rail tour brought together all the key stakeholders to celebrate progress so far and set future goals.”
Stuart Harland, chairman of MarshLink Action Group, said: “It was useful to put local business owners and regional representatives in direct contact with senior representatives of GTR. This enabled them to emphasise for themselves the needs of their employees and constituents alike to have reliable rail services.”