Train pledge exposed

Autumn … and more Tory lies on the line

The Tories would have to spend a vast amount of money – upwards of £20 billion – to create a faster rail service between Hastings and London.

This is based on the £400 million-per-mile cost of the current HS2 project linking London to the North. Besides replacing track, it involves a major restructuring the station set-up at Ashford International. 

But it is a cost skirted around in a statement recently by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, when he pledged he would prioritise ‘fast track fast trains’ from Ashford to Hastings and Eastbourne.

“How will they modify the Marshlink line to raise the speed limit above the current 40mph?” said Labour’s Peter Chowney. “How much will the signalling, bridge and track works cost to achieve that?

“It’s rich of the Tories to allege what they claim are uncosted commitments by Labour when they produce this. It is another Tory promise they know can’t be delivered.”

It was also misleading that the Javelin trains would travel at 140 mph from Hastings to Ashford. That’s the top speed of Javelin trains between cities. In practice the speed would be nothing like that.

Former MP Amber Rudd
promised high-speed
trains in 2015.
It never happened’

Peter Chowney said: “Former MP Amber Rudd promised in 2015 that the work to bring Javelin trains to Hastings would be in the next Network Rail control period. It wasn’t.

“The Javelin trains they are proposing may reduce commuting times, at great cost, but would do nothing to help local manufacturers get their goods in and out of Hastings.”

He added: “Several schemes to do this have been scrapped. Are they gong to electrify the line? If not, are they intending to use bi-mode battery, diesel or hydrogen fuel cell Javelin trains – none of which yet exists?

What’s needed is properly
planned fully-funded
– not vanity projects

“What’s needed is a properly planned-out review of the transport infrastructure in this area, and in the South East generally, and then a fully-funded programme of improvements, not one-off vanity projects.

“There has been great work done by Transport for the South East, chaired by the Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council Keith Glazier – but none of their plans mention making the Marsh Link line a priority.

“We need a strategic transport network that’s designed to minimise climate change as well as speed up journey times.”

Labour would bring the railways back into public ownership, cap fares and start a rolling programme of electrifying the rail network.

About The Author

Rick Dillon, Press Officer for Peter Chowney