Last Friday 14 September, Amber Rudd hosted her fifth Hastings Rail Summit. Amber brought together representatives from Government, local Government and rail infrastructure companies to update residents on the progress being made towards delivering high speed journeys and the measures being taken to improve customers’ experiences.
Amber Rudd MP commented:
“Improving our local transport has always been one of my top priorities as your MP. That is exactly why I hold annual summits to allow for our residents to ask questions of local and central Government as well as our rail companies to ensure that we are getting the best services possible.
“I am pleased that representatives from all of these bodies took the time to join my rail summit. It has been very interesting to get an update from those on the panel and I am glad that our residents were able to voice their opinion on some of the issues they hold most dear.”
Attendees at the event, including constituents, members of the local business community and representatives of the area’s councils and rail user groups, heard presentations from:
- Huw Merriman (Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle)
- David Wornham (Director of Passenger Services, Southeastern)
- Angie Doll (Passenger Services Director, GTR)
- Andrew Wood (Senior Commercial Scheme Sponsor South East Route, Network Rail)
- Matthew Arnold (Commercial Director, Stagecoach South East)
- Graham Peters (Chair, Team East Sussex; Vice Chair, South East Local Enterprise Partnership)
- Cllr Keith Glazier (Leader, East Sussex County Council; Chairman, Transport for the South East)
- Jo Johnson MP (Minister of State for the Department for Transport)
The event was chaired by Ray Chapman of the East Sussex Rail Alliance.
David Wornham of Southeastern provided updates on the improvements that have been made across the network and fleet. Investment has been made in two additional dispatch teams at London Bridge to improve efficiency during evening peaks and improvements in passenger communications and signage. All 392 units have been installed with Wi-Fi and motion infotainment will be available over the next few months, including free Amazon Prime content, audio books, magazines and games.
Network Rail set out the initial design work that has been completed with £200,000 of investment from East Sussex County Council and the Department for Transport. The second part of the design for Phase 1 will be costed by late Autumn with work expected to commence in early 2020. Improving resilience on the Govia Thameslink network is a major project for Network Rail, in February 2019, the entire signalling system will be replaced, south of Haywards Heath, having first been installed in 1982. Half of the problems that occur across the entire Govia Thameslink network are on the lines to Brighton and Lewes from Three Bridges.
Angie Doll of Govia Thameslink Railway, who run Southern services, spoke about the case for modernisation. She also spoke about the work GTR are doing to improve early morning connections across the Marshlink, including connecting to Ashford International for the 07:06 High Speed service to London and improving connections for Southeastern services at Hastings. She also discussed the work GTR are doing to modernise their workforce, including their work to encourage female engineers.
Matthew Arnold of Stagecoach South East gave an update on the integration between rail and bus services. He also spoke about how they are working with the local Citizens Advice Bureau to assist residents with free services.
Vice Chair for South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Graham Peters said of how HS1 would act as a catalyst for economic growth, in addition he said ‘Our physical connectivity lags far behind our aspiration and potential, this holds back our businesses in connecting them with the wider world’.
In his presentation, Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council and Chair of Transport for the South East, spoke of central Government support for the infrastructure of the South East, with £1m of initial funding granted by the Department for Transport to invest in a transport strategy for the South East. He said ‘the County Council priority is driving sustainable economic growth.’
Rail Minister, Jo Johnson set out in his remarks that the Department for Transport set a minimum requirement for the new Southeastern operator, meaning they must run fast services to London throughout the day and not only in peak travel times. He said this will drive more tourism, more jobs and more growth for the local area.
Notes to Editors
Jo Johnson is pictured speaking at the 2018 Hastings Rail Summit (L-R: Amber Rudd, Ray Chapman, Huw Merriman, Andrew Wood, Angie Doll).