A four coach train, instead of the usual two, from Brighton to Ashford (pictured above) is a welcome sight when the platforms are crowded both sides of the tracks. However they are only for the weekends, though passenger numbers at certain weekday times can be just as high. A possible solution being investigated now is old London Underground trains.
Old underground trains have run for many years on a line on the Isle of Wight and Southern Rail, hit by budget restrictions imposed by the Department of Transport, believe this could also be the answer on the Marsh line. Southern apparently need five more trains to cope with rising demand and problems caused by cancellations (as they have no “spares” nearby) and re-engineered District Line trains may be an answer.
The District Line was one of the earliest underground routes with “cut and cover” rather than deeper tunnelling so its trains are larger than on many other lines. The local Marsh Link Action Group (MLAG) was represented when the East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA) and Bexhill MP Huw Merriman went to investigate these plans.
The shortage of diesel stock could be overcome if the line was electrified, but ESRA chairman Ray Chapman said the Underground trains were “an ideal interim solution”.
Rye only benefits from four coach trains at the weekends because the units are not needed on the busy commuter line at Uckfield. However the units are needed elsewhere on weekdays. Any improvements in future on the Uckfield line might however lead to Rye getting better services if units are freed up.
In the long run though the solution may be electrification and the extension of high speed Javelin trains (without changing at Ashford) ,which already serve most of the Thanet coastal towns like Ramsgate and Margate, to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill.
Photo : Seana Lanigan