East Sussex Rail Alliance; Press Release

Press Release – 14th May 2018 immediate release –

About East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA)
ESRA is an umbrella group comprising the four main volunteer operated rail user
groups in East Sussex. These are:
• Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG)
• East Coastway Commuter Group (ECCG)
• MarshLink Action Group (MLAG)
• St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement Programme (SHRIMP) including Ore Transport Group (OTG)

The group also works in partnership with West Sussex Rail Users Association,
Employers in Crawley and Brighton Line Commuters, Railfuture, East Sussex County
Council, Eastbourne Borough Council, Rother District Council, Hastings Borough
Council and the Local Chamber of Commerce across the area, representing over
50,000 rail users across the region.
“It’s a major new initiative and fundamental to the future economic growth for us all
in the South East – the formation of the strategic planning forum, Transport for South
East (TfSE). We were delighted to join in the launch last Tuesday with the
Department for Transport, Network Rail, Highways England and key Government
Funding bodies and the mass of County and District Councils,” reports Ray Chapman,
Co Chairman of East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA).
“Last week’s announcement of £1million funding and the formation of this new
regional strategic planning body for transport across the whole of the South and South
East, is a massive step change for the better,” says Ray Chapman. “Here all who use
the roads, rail, sea ports and air, will be encouraged that we now have a body,
managed by the County Councils from Kent to Hampshire, able and set up to plan our
transport strategy as far as 2050, and that includes every member of society, in work
or not, on foot, cycle, car or bus – and of course by train. We make up some some 7
1/2 millions in this region!
“While we may wonder about another government body, and we will not see the
effects for some time, Transport for South East (TfSE) is what we have been wanting
for years – so that key roads and railways meet the needs of a growing public demand,
bus and cycle ways match changes in travel – and we plan for a proper, safe,
environmentally friendly and efficient south coast integrated road and railway
system. We must transform the transport corridors which take us from the Channel
Tunnel to Southampton, from the South Coast to Reading and the M4/40 silicon
valley. We need the plan and now we want the investment because transport is a vital
component that leads economic growth.
“Led by Cllr Keith Glazier, Chairman of TfSE and Leader of East Sussex County
Council, he is to be congratulated on this crucial first step of winning cross County
boundaries support. Such has been the speed of the advance in its formation that it
has received an immediate funding of £1million, the first sign of gaining
Governmental approval. How will it affect us individually? It will not immediately –
but in time it will fundamentally.” continues Ray Chapman.”But let us remember that
this region sends a massive £200billion to the Treasury each year – and we want more
“For instance, every road user already knows that the A27/M27 and A259 is a
nightmare, with the A21 not much better – and that any travel from east to west and
back is absolutely chronic. We now expect TfSE will lead the debate and then the
funding drive for infrastructure improvements, by setting out our local and regional
priorities. Here then is the start of getting it sorted – to tackle the worst accident spots
on the A21 and the A27/A259. Look closely again at the needs of Chichester,
Arundel, Worthing and Brighton – and onto Ashford – for a proper safe, higher
capacity dual carriageway to bring in, and take out, goods and people for Continental
Europe at Dover, and the prime airports of Gatwick, Southampton. Our performance
here affects the whole of the UK.
“Every rail user knows the continuing disruptive disaster of the Brighton Main Line
for commuters due to work in London – and just as awkward are the Coastal lines
from Hastings via Eastbourne to London, or to Brighton to the west, Ashford for HS1
to the east. All lacking proper levels of investment to make them efficient travel
corridors. We need these key railway lines to be upgraded and funded as the key
through route, South Coast Main Line, Ashford to Southampton – and to accelerate
the rail service across MarshLink to access London in just over one hour from
Interesting facts – one minute’s delay due to traffic congestion across the country costs
the nation a staggering £4.5millions. Traffic congestion, accidents on the road cost
the Nation some £30billion a year, Now that is waste in a big, big way,” concluded
Ray Chapman. “This is a gigantic task – but the rewards can be phenomenal,
especially as we now to look at protecting our environment, encouraging the next
tranche of greener fully autonomous vehicles due on line over the next decade and
going on to generate the means of tackling our deprived populations.”