Better trains are vital for Rye

I read with some amazement reports in this paper and elsewhere of the debate at Rye Town Council as to whether or not Rye should support a connection with the high speed Ashford line. The issue is not faster trains, although for regular commuters even a 10-15 minute saving would be welcome. It is much more basic - reliable trains, replacing the old diesel stock - an upgraded line reducing signal problems - greater capacity - and the removal of the feeling that Southern regard this line as some kind of inconvenient orphan. And, of course, it would be nice to get on one train and travel all the way to London. Do any councillors commute to London on a regular basis? This morning, 6th January, the 0608 Rye/Ashford was cancelled. The 0637 was delayed, missing the connection to the Charing Cross service, and the 0706 was also cancelled. This is typical.

It is a common fallacy, also put about concerning HS2 - the new proposed line to Birmingham and beyond, that the issue is only about speed. It is not, this is a by-product of a technologically advanced line and simply not the main advantage of extending the St Pancras / Ashford line to Rye and Hastings.

Dear council - you should be so lucky that a few more people might move to Rye if the new line comes. You are worried Rye will become a commuter town? You should be more worried that the town dies economically and the high street offers only coffee shops, restaurants, antiques and knick-knacks if it doesn’t come. Meanwhile I await news that the Conservation Society are campaigning for a steam service.

Peter Savory

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