Amber Rudd, Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye, and Huw Merriman, Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle, have welcomed the publication of the Department for Transport’s public consultation on the next South Eastern rail franchise.

The document sets out proposals to improve the train service on the South Eastern rail network following the end of the contract for the current train service operator in December 2018. It invites responses to these proposals from organisations and individual members of the public.

Included in the consultation is the option to operate High Speed services between St. Pancras and Hastings, Bexhill and Rye via Ashford International.

Amber said: “Securing this fast service, to bring journey times between our area and London down by nearly 40 minutes to just over one hour, has been a top priority for me since 2010.

“This is an essential project for Hastings, Rye and the surrounding area. It will bring enormous benefits to our communities, it will boost growth and regeneration, and it will offer people much greater opportunities for work and travel.”

Amber leads a High Speed Rail Working Group in Parliament with Huw Merriman. It brings together East Sussex County Council, Rother District Council, Hastings Borough Council, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Network Rail, chambers of commerce, and development and rail groups. The group meets regularly to join-up each organisation’s work to strengthen the case for investment in the project.

The consultation also announces that the Department for Transport is exploring various options for reducing the journey time on the existing Mainline route between Hasting and Charing Cross via St Leonards, Battle and Tonbridge. This could include reducing calls at less well used stations which could deliver an hourly fast service.

Questions 11 to 13 ask respondents to comment on the proposals for High Speed Rail and faster Mainline services.

A public event to discuss the consultation will be held at Muriel Matters House in Hastings on Saturday 8th April between 11:00-14:00.

Huw said: "The inclusion of High Speed 1 is a huge opportunity for Bexhill and our coastal towns.  It is now essential that the entire community sends out the message to bidders of the Southeastern franchise that this service will be welcomed and well used by responding to the consultation.  Amber has worked tirelessly on this project and I am delighted to be at her side as we continue our campaign for a better rail service for our area.”

Amber added: “There is still more to do to make the case for investment in this project as strong as possible. I urge everyone who would like to see the enormous benefits that High Speed Rail could bring to our area to respond to the consultation.”



Notes to Editors:

The consultation document can be found here: The consultation will run until 23 May 2017 and information on how to submit a response is available on page 39.