As one of many residents who commutes between London and Hastings, I can understand why constituents approach me to voice their concerns about train services. That is why since my election in 2010, it has been a priority of mine to ensure that I campaign for delivering better, faster and more reliable rail services for our town. Quicker journey times to our towns will deliver transformative benefits to our local economies and keep us at arm’s length from the capital.
I have always fought to keep the lines of communication open between industry leaders, politicians and our residents, which is why I hold annual rail summits. These meetings give the local residents in our towns the opportunity to hear about plans for network improvements first hand and also to raise any questions or concerns directly with the rail companies and infrastructure companies.
During my last rail summit, Network Rail set out their plans for the work required to deliver high speed journey times to our towns. Not only would this mean that commuters would see their journey from Hastings to London reduced to 66 – 69 minutes, it would also bring transformational benefits to our community. I know myself and many residents would welcome arriving in London within the time it takes to watch a couple episodes of our favourite TV series! High speed rail would bring thousands of new jobs and provide an economic boost to our region of over £700m and I am determined to do all I can in helping deliver this incredible opportunity to our communities.
Looking locally, I am delighted that the Department for Transport has announced £1 million of funding for the work of Transport for the South East. Transport for the South East works to grow the South East’s economy by improving transport infrastructure to make the region more productive and competitive. They also work to improve quality of life whilst protecting the environment. This is a fantastic achievement for the organisation and I look forward to seeing the funding put to good use and benefiting our towns.
Following my last rail summit, I organised for Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, to visit Ashford International with a number of local stakeholders. During the visit, the Secretary of State committed to supporting the development of a proposed track layout at Ashford International. This will allow trains from Hastings, Rye, Bexhill and Eastbourne to travel direct to London St Pancras. This commitment is the first step towards delivering high speed rail for our communities.
I will soon meet with representatives from local rail user groups to discuss their concerns. I will then raise these issues with industry leaders and invite them to address them at my upcoming fifth annual rail summit. It is essential that those who spend so much time commuting on our rail services have a say in how the future of our network will change.
I am delighted to announce that my next rail summit will be held on Friday 14 September 2018 from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at Sussex Coast College, Hastings. I am also pleased to say that the Minister of State for the Department for Transport, Jo Johnson MP, will be the keynote speaker.
If you would like to attend my annual Rail Summit, please sign up on my website here or call 01424 716756 to RSVP.
Amber Rudd MP
Hastings and Rye