Drop HS2, improve Marshlink instead

I was most interested to read “The View of Westminster” written by Amber Rudd MP in the Rye Observer, August 23.

I could not agree more with the headline “Better rail and road networks are needed” but when I read her column I was rather disappointed that she only mentioned that the first phases of the rail improvement initiative of the St Leonard’s and Hastings Rail Improvement programme (SHRIMP) was for electrification of services from Ashford to Hastings, and the second phase was for further electrication continuing to Eastbourne and Brighton.

What the Marshlink Action Group (MLAG) has been calling for a very long time was not only the electrification of the line, but to have dual tracks all the way from Ashford and Brighton.

Currently we have services at only hourly intervals with exception of a few shuttle services in peak periods between Ashford and Rye. Until the nettle is grasped, and not only electrification is put in place but dual tracks also, I am unable to see that Rye commuters will get a very much quicker service, not to mention a service which accommodates those living in villages along the line who receive little or no service at all. MLAG is putting much pressure for this to be done through consultation with Rail Track.

Perhaps SHRIMP and MLAG should be negotiating together rather than separately?

Perhaps also rather than decimating the English countryside with the proposed High Speed 2 rail link between London and Birmingham at the revised cost of £80 billion to the taxpayer to shave 20 minutes off the journey, we should be putting the money into improving the existing railway infrastructure such as the Marshlink line.

Then, and only then, will better railways throughout the country be improved. I believe without this improvement the ability to attract private investment, foster economic growth and generate employment will be difficult to achieve.

I would suggest to Amber Rudd that she should be lobbying the Transport Minister to ditch the proposal for the High Speed 2 rail link and concentrate on improving the existing railway infrastructure.

Cllr Granville Bantick

Rye Town Councillor and member of MLAG