PRESS STATEMENT 6th March 2012

Completion of works on the MarshLink line

The date scheduled by Network Rail and Southern Railway for completion of the works on the MarshLink line was 11 March so, with a few days to go, what is the current position (one might reasonably ask).

I am very pleased to report that Southern have announced the train service will re-open on Sunday, as scheduled, at 6am. On a technicality, there will be a bus replacement service between Brighton and Lewes but that is for other reasons: also the bus replacement service will be in operation again over the Easter period (so Saturday 7 April till Monday 9 April inclusive).

So, let’s reflect. We were promised a repaired Ore Tunnel; the early completion of many other works along the line; an improved line speed; and a good coach replacement service throughout the blockade period.

How have things turned out:

– we gather the Ore Tunnel was completed last week and, we trust, will not be a problem for years to come;
– many works along the line have been brought forward, including the repair MLAG was particularly keen to have done, the embankment to the south of Ashford Station which has had a slower speed limit on it for many years;
– these works will permit an increased line speed but it will be a while before these can be brought into effect because of timetable complexities – we understand and were expecting this. There are also other works to be done, such as the Winchelsea crossing long scheduled for 2013-14, which will complete the line speed improvements;
– I think we did have a good replacement service but some of the vehicles were more like buses than coaches. Having said that, overall, we have to applaud Southern for the service they provided, including during the snowy period.

But let us be aware there will always be maintenance works on the line and we should welcome that (within reason). One early example is works at the Grove Road level crossing during the evenings of 13-16 March but, being overnight, these should not affect the operation of the train.

Many of these matters will be discussed at the MLAG Annual General Meeting when we will have speakers from Network Rail, Southern Railway and The Go-Ahead Group plc, the franchise holder for the line.

Please note that MLAG will hold its Annual General Meeting starting at 7.15pm on Wednesday 14 March at The George Hotel in Rye. Also note the date of the meeting was specifically chosen to be after completion of the works so the meeting could be forward thinking.

Stuart Harland
MarshLink Action Group


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