Political point failure on HS1

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A HS1 service leaves St Pancras for Ashford and beyond

A political spat has broken out between sitting MP for Rye and Hastings Amber Rudd and Labour’s candidate for the seat Peter Chowney – and it’s not over Brexit.

The issue is the proposed enabling works at Ashford International Station that will allow the existing High Speed (HS1) trains from London to arrive at Platform 2, giving Marshlink passengers a convenient cross-platform interchange, and that would ultimately enable HS1 to come to Rye and onto Hastings (if this should ever get the green light).

The planned works were covered in detail by Rye News previously but in a recent mailshot to local residents, Peter Chowney, currently leader of Hastings Council, said, “It’s now highly unlikely that HS1 Javelin trains will be coming to Rye. The next ‘control period’ for Network Rail investment (2019-24) includes no mention of it, and the basic works at Ashford International have been scrapped because of technical problems.” Peter Chowney went on to point out that the, “Views on the likely benefit, particularly in Rye, were mixed, but it was hailed by our local MP as the big project to revitalise our local economy.”

Amber Rudd hit back last week with an open letter to residents of Hastings and Rye saying, “Since becoming your MP I have worked hard to improve our railways and roads.” Yet I know there is more to do so that you all get the best possible journey times. And working with the Transport Secretary and his team of Ministers I am working hard to bring faster and better services to Hastings.”

Amber Rudd then went on to take a swipe at Peter Chowney with, “What is unhelpful, frankly, is for the local Labour party to be scaremongering. I understand that the Labour party recently told residents there were no plans for Network Rail investment over the next three years. This is of course untrue. As Network Rail themselves say, Hastings to London journey time improvement is key to long term plans.”

So it would seem that even on run-of-the-mill transport issues our politicians can’t work together. For now, we will need to wait for Network Rail to clarify the situation and confirm that the enabling works at Ashford International Station will be taking place, or not as the case may be!

Editors note: We understand that Stuart Harland, chairman of Marshlink, our local railway pressure group, is seeking to clarify the position as it is possible rail work at Ashford proved more complex than first thought and is being revised, and any major Government plans like the Hi-speed extension have been put on hold until Brexit is sorted out

Image Credits: Rye News library.

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