The Anonymous Widower

To Brighton The Long Way

As it had been a long time, since I’d been to the Rye area in Kent, I decided to go to see Ipswich at Brighton, by taking the long way round via Ashford, Brighton and Lewes.

I arrived at Ashford on the high speed Class 395 from St. Pancras and from there to Rye, I had a very clean Class 171 to myself.

My Personal Class 171

My Personal Class 171

With some of the controversy about the lack of toilets on Crossrail, it is interesting to note that the six car Class 395 has only two toilets, whilst the two car Class 171 has just a single. So it would appear that there isn’t much demand for toilets-on-the-go in Kent.

On a serious note, the journey from Ashford to Rye is on the Marshlink Line, which has recently been looked at for electrification so that high-speed services can come from St. Pancras to Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne via Ashford. It’s reported here in Kent Online.

If you look at the area from Ashford to Eastbourne, it is not one of the most prosperous places in the South East, although it has improved in recent years, so the promoters of the scheme might have a point, when they say an improved train service might give the whole area a lift.

An electrified Marshlink Line connecting Ashford to Ore where the existing third-rails finish could be one of those additions to the rail network, where because it’s there, you get all sorts of unexpected benefits.

The electrification would have to be third rail, which is probably something Network Rail want to avoid. But this would mean that apart from the freight services to Dungeness Power station, all the services along the South Coast could be electric, as third rail running is no problem for the Class 395. The Class 171 would find employment elsewhere.

The case is probably not a strong one, as if it was when the Marshlink Line had problems in Ore Tunnel a couple of years ago, the powers that be,  would have taken the opportunity presented by the line closure to electrify it.

What will probably result in the electrification of the Marshlink Line is developments on the diesel-operated Uckfield branch of the Oxted Line. In the discussion of the future of this line on Wikipedia, various scenarios are put forward that could result in the full electrification of this line. If this happens, then electrification of the Marshlink Link would remove the Class 171 trains from Sussex and Kent, which surely would be a saving in train care costs.

According to this report in the Sussex Express, the council is backing electrification of both lines.

Electrifying two rail lines in East Sussex, including Uckfield to Hurst Green, is the best way of improving capacity, reducing journey times and boosting the county’s economy, a council chief said.

East Sussex County Council has designated the electrification and dual tracking of the Uckfield to Hurst Green and Hastings to Ashford lines as its key priorities for improving rail infrastructure and services.

The report also mentions an East Sussex Council Council report entitled Shaping Rail In East Sussex.

I have read this and it is a sensible document, that shows the council is serious about providing a good rail service for the area.

One thing the report mentions is that Thameslink was going to go to Eastbourne, but this has now been dropped. Other reports show that many commuters would like to be in London in seventy minutes instead of the current ninety and they had hoped a direct link via Thameslink would have helped achieve this. I doubt, going from Eastbourne to London via Ashford, would be anywhere near the magic seventy.

After 2018 when Thameslink is fully open, the pressure on railways in East Sussex will inevitably increase. Especially, as it is a county, where a lot of the roads are not an easy alternative.

I do wonder if electrification and dualling of these two lines is going to be one of a host of infrastructure projects announced before May.


January 21, 2015 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

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