If electrifying the Marshlink railway between Hastings and Ashford is not possible what about ‘Bi-mode’ trains?

From: Eric Waters, Ingleside Crescent, Lancing

Under the headline ‘Hastings high speed rail link may never happen’ an Observer reader said that the re-electrification of the local Marshlink rail line is not going to materialise for a very long time.

Martin Woodfine, of St. Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement (SHRIMP), is quite right because, last July, the government scrapped plans for electrification schemes all over the UK, including the lines between Cardiff and Swansea, the Midland mainline and the Lake district, and so the chances of one for Marshlink are virtually zero.

However, this does not mean that there is not a brighter future for this line, which runs for 26 miles between Hastings and Ashford, because ‘bi-mode’ is now official government policy when it comes to the future of our non-electrified railway lines.

This form of technology, which sees locomotives and trains equipped with both diesel and electric power, does not involve rail users having to put up with disruptive electrification works, and miles of wires and masts that spoil the look of the countryside. It should prove to involve far less cost to the taxpayer than electrification and be quicker to get up and running.

The use of bi-mode on Marshlink would mean the end of the present two-carriage Class 171 diesel trains that pack in their passengers like sardines.

I understand that the present rolling stock will need to be replaced by the end of this decade, so the chances must be good that the new ones will be bi-modes with, hopefully, faster and more frequent services between Hastings and Ashford.