Plans to discontinue the direct rail service from Etchingham to Cannon Street
In February, 2009, Network Rail’s Kent Route Utilisation Strategy recommended the truncation of the direct Hastings-Cannon Street rail service at London Bridge.
If implemented, this proposal would have had a significant adverse impact on local residents, especially commuters, who use the service and, potentially, the economy of the area as a whole.
The proposals involving stopping all trains at London Bridge would have added significantly to journey times, and caused unnecessary inconvenience to passengers.
An open Meeting was held on 29th April 2010 at Dale Hill Golf Club, which was chaired by Tom Winsor, ex Rail Regulator, and Hawkhurst resident. The Speaker was Greg Barker, since re-elected MP for Bexhill and Battle.
Damaging impact on the local area
The policy was being introduced by stealth and purely on the back of a technical decision to only run 12-carriage trains into Cannon Street. At the time, this length of train could not be supported on the Hastings line below Tunbridge Wells. But the report completely ignored the damaging impact on what was possibly the worst served area of the South East from a transport perspective.
Greg Clarke, MP for the Hawkhurst area, Greg Barker, MP for the adjoining (Bexhill and Battle) and Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye), East Sussex, area made strong representations on the issue, supported by the area’s Local Authorities.
The Partnership co-ordinated the private sector lobby for the continuation of the service and, over 2 years, over 30 businesses and business organisations representing hundreds of area businesses “drip-fed” their letters up the chain to the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Southeastern and Westminster MP’s. Together, this produced the happy result of confirmation from the Department for Transport in July, 2013 that this important, direct service to the heart of the City would “continue for the forseeable future”. In addition, 12-car trains are now being run on 2 out of 3 of these services.
Four years of hard work and concerted effort – but the positive result made it worth it.
For more information, contact: Yolanda Laybourne, HCP Coordinator.