Our local MP Sally-Ann Hart was on the telly mid week saying what we all need to speed economic recovery in the area is the high-speed train being extended from Ashford to Hastings as this will bring “business” to the area.
However “business” seems to be waking up to the fact in lockdown that more people can work from home and the cost of huge offices and crammed commuter trains is not really necessary much of the time.
And the result is that DFLs (Down From London) are actually getting younger, are still in work, and want better surroundings – and have moved here during the continuing pandemic.
The world is changing, and may change more, as a result of the pandemic – but also as a result of “how we work, and where we therefore need to live, and Sally-Ann may well prove to be “yesterday’s woman”.
Kicked into touch
Indeed, having worked in Whitehall for nearly 20 years, high-speed to Hastings shows every sign of being “kicked into touch” as more spending reviews, assessments, and strategic considerations appear out of the woodwork – alongside (apparently) the cost and complexity of getting the high-speed trains from one side of Ashford station to the other.
However, if our MP is right, a golden opportunity emerges to solve two problems at once. Road problems in the area could be solved at the same time as high-speed arrives – and high-speed will involve some engineering works anyway as most of the line is single track and passing room at Rye station is limited.
Look around you in London – and in some other town centres – and you will see that roads have been built over railway lines. And a problem in the Rye area is that you cannot build houses (let alone by-passes) because of the AONB and SSSIs – Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest – and that was the headache spotted in the 80s when a by-pass was last considered.
Building over the top
But a by-pass could be built over the rail track (as it is in London in Notting Hill) and the work could be done at the same time, and in conjunction with the work necessary for high-speed rail.
So, thank you Sally Ann, you may have solved two problems at once by pressing for the high-speed and, who knows, we may learn absolutely no lessons at all from the pandemic – and life will go on as it did before.
Postscript: But one of the “joys” of climate change is that sea levels are rising – which must surely kill off plans for the proposed new tunnel under the Thames (and even closer to the sea) – as well as any thought that what Rye needs is a “by-pass” tunnel – given that most of the land here thought to be suitable in the 80s for a by-pass is former seabed.
However that issue (flood risk) may also kill off any dreams of “High-Speed” crossing the Marsh where desperate attempts are already being made to keep the sea at bay from what it once covered. But perhaps Sally-Ann could become the “Mermaid MP”? Or we could have a Marsh Tunnel linked into the Channel Tunnel?
Image Credits: J.Minter .