High speed rail is just a dream

Rye and Battle Observer letters
Rye and Battle Observer letters

From: Eric Waters, Ingleside Crescent, Lancing

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, said she is committed to supporting the development of a proposed track layout at Ashford International which would allow trains from Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne to travel direct to London St Pancras.

She added that, accompanying the track changes at Ashford, hybrid rolling stock – trains running on diesel-electric or battery-electric power – would make quick journey times a reality.

And thereby hangs a tale.

As we all know the Government has declared war on diesel cars and is aiming for an all-electric future by 2040, despite the inconvenient fact that it would have to build 10 more power stations to fulfil its target.

However, on July 20 of this year, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling cancelled the planned electrification of the Midland Main Line north of Kettering, the Great Western Main Line west of Cardiff, and Oxenholme to Windermere and will, instead, operate them using by bi-modes and other forms of traction.

Bimodes? For the uninitiated these are trains that operate with both electric and diesel engines; yes, the very same diesel engines that the government says must be banned from our roads because of their potentially dangerous emissions. Either these, or the present diesel-electric ones, will have to be used on Ms. Rudd’s new railway, because the track between Hastings and Ashford is not electrified, and the chance of it becoming so is very remote. And the result of these conflicting government policies? Clean Sussex and Kent roads and dirty Sussex and Kent railways.

A closing thought.

Is Ms. Rudd aware of the fact that the line between Rye and Ashford is single track, with just a passing point at Rye? Hardly the ideal layout, I would have thought, for a line that is supposed to offer an express service all the way from Eastbourne to London.

Just one breakdown, or signal fault, and the whole line will grind to a halt. It does today and it will in the future, no matter how much money the Secretary of Transport spends on altering the track at Ashford and supplying smart, new trains.

Yet another case of back to the drawing board?