KENT ROUTE STUDY; RESPONSE FROM ST LEONARDS & HASTINGS RAIL IMPROVEMENT (‘SHRIMP’)

We welcome the opportunity to respond to this important study.

The most important point is our total support for the extension of HS1 services from St Pancras Int’l (via Ashford Int’l) to Rye, Hastings, Bexhill. It could potentially continue to Eastbourne for ease of operation and lack of extra infrastructure requirements.

This faster connectivity would be highly beneficial to the regeneration of the area, notably Hastings which is one of the poorest towns in England (reportedly only second behind Blackpool).

A reduction in journey time of 30mins (from an existing 2hr journey) is clearly something to be encouraged.

There has been a lot of speculation and discussion about how this extension would be powered. ‘SHRIMP’ wishes to express no preference in this matter, our only request is for this connectivity to be established.

On a wider note, the DfT has reported (elsewhere) that 9 out of 10 journeys on the Kent network are made to/from central London. This is largely because the network was designed to accommodate that passenger-flow. However over a long number of years the passenger travel needs have adjusted to meet new demands and the network should be adjusted – and it need only be adjustments rather than a wholesale reshaping – to reflect and cater for this.

On routes from Hastings, be it to Ashford via Rye or to London via Tunbridge Wells you cannot ‘turn right’. Any journeys to Lydd (Airport), Dover, Canterbury, Maidstone, Chatham (as examples) necessitate at least one change, sometimes more.

Therefore, as part of the wider route design programme, consideration should be given to inserting or replacing link-lines to afford more cross-region connectivity. This would benefit the whole network, not just Hastings.

We trust you will find our submission to be relevant and of assistance in your considerations.