Response to HBC in Hastings Observer Article

In the Hastings Observer (2nd March) HBC/Cllr Chowney appeared to take credit for the hard work done over by a consortium of rail user groups over several meetings with GTR to secure the recently publicised May+ East Coastway Timetable. This is the letter we have sent to the HO in response:

“We are bemused by HBC / Cllr Chowney’s comments about ‘our ideas’ in last weeks otherwise very informative article about the new East Coastway timetable & service patterns.

In fact, HBC (uniquely amongst local authorities) initially proposed a very different outcome that would have destroyed St Leonards Warrior Square direct services to Ashford & the connections to High Speed services to London. Additionally their response to the GTR Consultation would not have developed the May timetable with extra services all day long, and Ore would not have got the additional services that it will benefit from. All the other key stakeholders spotted the danger and acted swiftly to avert it.

The local voluntary user groups, covering an area between Rye and Norman’s Bay, spent many hours with GTR over several meetings to go over the proposals in fine detail, a process that GTR have recognised as a major contributory factor to the success of the project. HBC and other authorities were at none of those discussions. We do, however, welcome HBC backing the final timetable options that we helped negotiate.

There are still a lot of negotiations to be had on local rail services including the upcoming potential change of operator for the important South Eastern franchise, the continuing development of direct High Speed services, and an on-going review with GTR on the East Coastway.

As we have seen what can be achieved by working closely together as rail user groups with organisations that adopt a can do/will do approach, we would welcome HBC to those discussions, but on the clear understanding that we will not sacrifice our long-standing political neutrality.”

Martin Woodfine, St Leonards & Hastings Rail Improvement

Trevor Davies, Ore Transport Group