A Potted History of SHRIMP (updated Oct 2017)
The roots of SHRIMP go back into Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG), which was set up in 2005 in reaction to a proposed plan to curtail the Hastings < > Victoria service at Eastbourne.
Under the chairmanship and guidance of Brian Hord OBE and with a selection of commuters plus people with industry experience, BRAG soon developed a network of useful contacts across the rail industry.
Hastings Direct Insurance offered their facilities for meetings, a facility we still enjoy and appreciate.
The service was saved, sparking the momentum for a wider approach to improvements and dialogue with all aspects of the industry.
The personnel have changed over time but Martin Woodfine representing Hastings’ interests remains. The BRAG chairmanship was subsequently taken up by Hugh Sharp who had a long career as a (published) economist within the civil service and has recognition of the transport vs regeneration equation. Then Ray Chapman MA joined, also representing Hastings, but with a much wider vision and excellent contacts within the travel industry as a whole, not just rail.
In the run-up to the General Election 2010 BRAG invited all 3 main party PPCs to BRAG to discuss issues affecting the Charing Cross / Cannon St, Brighton, Victoria, Ashford services.
The (then) Conservative PPC Amber Rudd noted the strong connections and influence BRAG had made, and asked if Martin & Ray would set up a parallel lobby group in Hastings.
Thus, St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement – SHRIMP – was born. ‘Turning the Tide for Hastings Railways’.
We put prominent local & national politicians on our communication list and we continue to do so. Amber Rudd was elected as MP and used the gathered contacts and her parliamentary position to strengthen the Hastings transport campaign. Meetings were held with BRAG/SHRIMP/MLAG to identify strategies, including the HS1 project.
We did not take no as an answer. SHRIMP got into Hansard (17/06/2011).
SHRIMP and BRAG formed links with other local rail transport campaign groups such as Marshlink Action Group (MLAG), Three Oaks and Winchelsea Action for Rail Transport (THWART), Eastbourne Coastway Commuters Group (ECCG), Normans Bay Residents Association (NBRA); we made connections with groups in areas such as Brighton, Surrey, Deal, Sevenoaks. We became affiliated by subscription to the national campaign association RailFuture. We were invited to join Rother Transport Action Group (RTAG) and continue to participate in same.
East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA) was established as an umbrella group. Whilst the local groups were concentrating on the local issues, there were bigger long-term strategies to set up and push forward, such as the challenge of bringing HS1 services to Hastings and Bexhill via Ashford and Rye, thus reducing by a significant margin the journey time from London and thus creating a regenerative boost to the area.
Each local group has a representative within ESRA which, under the drive of Ray, continues to make strides in developing the right contacts and pushing ideas.
The Hastings Rail Summits were created. The ‘Amber Expresses’ arrived. HS1 was no longer a pipe-dream; it became and remains a realistic option with wide support from the industry, businesses, local & regional representatives. Funding options are being actively sought.
The Metrobus night bus 380 – to enable overnight travel to/from Gatwick airport from our area when there are no service trains – was trialled, but alas failed. As other strategic transport hub developments take place this idea is open for revisit.
OUT & ABOUT
Martin and Ray set about making SHRIMP a recognised stakeholder, going to meetings all over the South East (not always with an invitation!) continually drumming home the message that Hastings’ rail connectivity was poor in journey time aspects.
Ashford. Maidstone. Gillingham. Tonbridge. Lewes. Brighton. Croydon. Gatwick. London.
If the rail industry were there, so were we. We paid (and continue to pay) all our own expenses.
SHRIMP have had arranged visits to all manner of industry related places; the Three Bridges Regional Operations Centre; Selhurst maintenance depot; the D-Trains at Long Marston.
We attend industry and county council forums several times a year.
We recently attended, courtesy of CITL UK, a presentation by Eurostar. The notes from same have been published on our web-site.
THE IT BIT
On Rays bidding, SHRIMP became a mainly social media crustacean.
Amber & Ray had made contact with Christian, an IT specialist, who set up the (first) SHRIMP web-site, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
(The SHRIMP logo picture is an HS1 train with a reflection of the old Hastings Pier in the window, courtesy of Christian who took it shortly before the destructive fire).
In 2015 the initial SHRIMP website, based overseas, ran into a technical difficulty and had to shut down. It was subsequently re-launched with the help of a new IT-whizz volunteer, Janos. Our use of social media is expanding, especially on Twitter where we promote the use of public transport, including the bus connection possibilities at Hastings station.
Janos has also had to move on but we are indebted to both him and Christian for their assistance which we are building upon.
For the superstitious: on FRIDAY 13TH OCTOBER 2017 our twitter followers grew to 666.
Earlier in 2017 we established a satellite group to look after the interests of Ore station;
Ore Transport Group (OTG) operates under the excellent guidance of Trevor Davies and is now a recognised campaign group in its own right. Ore station has been adopted into the Sussex Community Rail Partnership scheme.
In recent months we have been engaging in depth with GTR/Southern with regard to their proposed 2018 timetables. These discussions have been very positive but they will need DfT approval. The role of the user-groups was noted during the recent Hastings Summit.
We have also participated in the DfT SE Franchise consultation and have had constructive talks with all three bidders for same. Notes of these discussions are on our website.
One of our upcoming projects is to forge links with disability groups with a view to identifying issues that might discourage rail use.
It should be noted that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) act is due to extend to the railways in 2020, although to what extent is unclear.
We watch with increasing concern the industrial relations issues that are having a deep & negative impact on current services and the region. We are not prepared to take sides, but we recognise that the issues are deeper and more complex than the public are persistently advised. This is not a one-sided dispute.
The future of Hastings’ rail transport infrastructure is open to major beneficial change.
But, BE AWARE: Nothing in the rail industry is as easy as it might appear. Everything takes time and money, the latter being often in short supply.
There are conflicts which really should not be acceptable and are very frustrating. Some recurring issues are not regionally-specific and as such require national strategies.
Regardless of the impetus of our origin (as above), SHRIMP has NO political affiliations or funding streams (indeed, we have NO funding streams!).
We are independent and VOLUNTARY.
SHRIMP (and the other local user-groups) have ONE objective – improving our transport connections and services.
If you like what we are trying to do and would like to get involved, we would love to hear from you. Let’s keep the tide turning.
SHRIMP, October 2017
HASTINGS & ST LEONARDS, ORE:
www.1066shrimprail.org.uk / firstname.lastname@example.org / @1066shrimprail
www.bexhillrailaction.org.uk / email@example.com
MARSHLINK, including Three Oaks & Winchelsea:
www.mlag.org.uk / firstname.lastname@example.org
REGIONAL, RAILFUTURE (by subscription):