Monday, May 21 2018

Published on June 15 2017. News
All aboard the High Speed?
A Hi Speed train arrives in London, but was the journey worth the money ?

All aboard the High Speed?

On Thursday June 15 the Marsh Link Action Group (MLAG) invited Paul Best from Network Rail to the Town Hall to present their Kent Area Route Study, which is currently out for consultation.

The sprawling consultation document covers rail networks across the UK but from MLAG’s point of view, the main item of interest in the study relates to the proposals for the High Speed train service from St Pancras to Ashford and its extension onto Rye, Hastings and Bexhill.

Overall the presentation was very positive with Paul Best saying the High Speed was ‘doable’ but it needs strong local support from people living and working in Rye.

As you may remember, our newly re-elected MP Amber Rudd committed herself to the High Speed extension earlier in the year saying, ‘Currently it takes far too long to travel along the coast and to make journeys to London. To change this I have been campaigning for improvements to the Marsh Link and for high speed services from London to Hastings, Rye and onto Bexhill.’

To her credit, Amber Rudd has convened a High Speed Rail Working Group and as we heard this evening she continues to take a keen interest. The group is made up of local MPs, council leaders, the Local Enterprise Partnership and local businesses and who are collectively putting the case to Network Rail and central government to secure the necessary funding. The question is, will her reduced majority in last week’s election speed things along?

Network Rail’s consultation closes on June 30 so if you have an opinion, get it in. An abridged version of the consultation can be found here: and you can email your comments to

And finally, for those of you who are interested in the history of the Marshlink line, here is an excerpt from Network Rail’s consultation document written by tonight’s speaker Paul Best:

6.1 Background

6.1.1. From the outset of the Route Study development, the Department for Transport instructed that High Speed services to Hastings and Bexhill should be incorporated in the Kent Route Study.

6.1.2. This scheme is seen as vital to the prosperity and future growth of the coastal toens (sic) of Hastings and Bexhill as it could reduce the journey time to London, making the area attractive to City workers, following on from the successof Margate’s regeneration.

6.1.3. A number of parties have been calling for the upgrade of the Marshlink line for many years. The 1963 Beeching Report originally proposed closing the line completely due to low passenger numbers and high running costs. However it was argued that the parallel A259 road route was too poor to operate replacement bus services.

6.1.4. Sections of the line were reduced to single track in 1979. This was to reduce the maintenance and operations costs to allow the railway to remain operational. To acheive (sic) this, British Rail removed sections of track between very slow crossovers. The linespeed (sic) was also reduced to 60 mph from 85 mph. This has lead (sic) to slow journey times and does not make best use of the modern diesel rolling stock currently operating the line, which have a top speed of 100mph.

The full report can be found here:


Kevin McCarthy

There Are 5 Comments

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  1. Paul says:

    Unfortunately us full time commuters are fightng the cancellation of Rye shuttle again. It has not run a all since Wednesday morning due to serious train fault and no one can tell us when it will be running again.

    Southern are now also no longer running buses to cover Rye shuttle cancellations.

    In regard to HS1 to Hastings what is going to be done about car parking at station especially on Thursday if project does finally get the go ahead

  2. Peter says:

    “but it needs strong local support from people living and working in Rye”. If that is a real requirement, we might as well forget the HS1 extension now. Mutterings of increased house prices have been prevalent from the beginning, even the town council considered voting to reject such a development. A few commuting families moving into Rye, to add to the numbers that already commute, can only bring money and increased spending to the town, year round. Meanwhile those that already live in Rye may find it more convenient to look further afield for jobs. All positive. The alternative is a town that looks inward the whole time, with a few councillors and others who prefer to see it pickled in aspic, as ‘real’ shops close to be replaced with more cafes, trinket and candle shops for the tourists that come for a few months each year. Oh, and perhaps the ability to see the HS1 sail through Rye station non-stop twice an hour en route to Hastings and Bexhill who have wholeheartedly supported it from the beginning.

  3. Diana Edmunds says:

    When do we see action ?For how long has the talking been going on? Why no redualing all the land is still there, it seems a regular feature of a week to have cancellations which if there was dual tracking cancellations would not be necessary. When will we have longer trains please?

  4. Firstly, many thanks to Kevin for writing a report on the MLAG meeting with Network Rail – and so promptly.

    The link provided in Kevin’s article takes you to the Summary Document which gives very limited information: there is also a more detailed report and a Technical Appendix. To see the works necessary to achieve the project and other considerations you need to read the Technical Appendix, Pages 19-38 (of a 58 page document covering the whole of the South East region) available on

    Responding to some of the subsequent comments made by contributors:

    (Paul) I am trying to find out when the Rye Shuttle will be running again and also why it has been cancelled recently;
    (Paul) Car parking would be an issue, not addressed so far. I appreciate passengers responses but, for now, I would point you towards Gibbet Marsh car park;
    (Peter) Noted, and I would also like to see responses to the consultation from the business community;
    (Diane) The Javelin extension to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill was first mooted in 2014. We are dealing with a project of several hundred million pounds so, unfortunately, time is required to itemise the issues; look for solutions; and assess the project’s financial viability before starting to spend. I think you would find the Technical Appendix referred to above shows the evaluation process so far. Nonetheless, Network Rail has upgraded some of the track (arguably with the Javelin in mind) going back as far as the days of the closure of the Ore Tunnel. In the Technical Analysis, a range of track works are contemplated – these include, for example, increasing line speed in the Ore – Doleham section; removing two level crossings in East Guldeford; and (most importantly for any direct High Speed link) works to connect the MarshlInk line with the HS1 line at Ashford. Some of these works may well be done irrespective of the Javelin service being committed;
    (Diane) With regard to the dualling of the line, Network Rail has said there is no economic case for dualling – the possible exception is for dualling two miles to the west of Rye as far as Winchelsea Bridge: so this is, possibly, another upgrade that could be done irrespective of a commitment to the Javelin service;
    (Diane) It may be surprising to hear that longer trains is a very difficult issue – it seems certain that, for as long as we retain the current 2 car, Class 171 units, it will not be possible to increase the length of the train. Southern has suggested terminating the Ashford – Brighton service at Eastbourne or Hastings for various reasons, including to reduce overcrowding on the section to the east of the terminating station: inevitably such a termination of service would have other affects on the service. Nonetheless, discussions are taking place with Southern at the moment and a decision is expected soon but it is likely any changes would only be brought into effect from December 2018.

  5. With regard to Paul’s question of 16 June about the cancellation of the Rye Shuttle, I have now received a response from Southern as follows, verbatim:

    “I am sorry for the delay in coming back to you. You’ll know from Gerry’s presentation at the conference that we are having issues with availability of the diesel stock, given the older and less reliable nature of the extra units we acquired from Scotland. There were two mornings (15/16th) when the stock shortage meant the shuttles were cancelled, and on the evening of the 14th. Over the last week the picture has been much better and I have not seen such cancellations.
    As per the info at the conference, we continue to work on the reliability of the units and the fleet team as you heard are undertaking overhauls and have secured the services of the leading expert diesel engineer to assist in this.”
    This doesn’t help too much but does, at least, provide an explanation direct from Southern.

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