The Anonymous Widower

Improving The Hastings Line

In The Lewes Horeseshoe, I discussed how an idea from Railfuture might be used to improve services between London and the South Coast.

I came to the conclusion, that if various improvements were carried out, including the running of trains with Class 395 performance from Ashford to Brighton along the East Coastway Line, that this would present an opportunity to close and rebuild the Hastings Line.

The Hastings Line is only thirty-two miles long from the South Eastern Main Line to Hastings, but there are deficiencies in the tunnels, which led to four of the eight tunnels being made single-track, when the line was electrified in 1986.

Surely, the fact that the line is constantly switching from double to single track, is one of the reasons, that the line only has a pathetic one semi-fast and one stopping train per hour between London and Hastings.

But things have moved on since 1986!

Network Rail must have learned a lot of tricks with tunnels. In particular, all the lessons learned in the re-boring of Farnworth Tunnel will be invaluable.

The length of the line is also such, that services could be run using IPEMU trains, charging the on-board storage on the South Eastern Main Line and between Battle and  Hastings stations.

Would running some parts of the Hastings Line without power, mean that it could be simplified by the partial removal of electrification?

I estimate that around twenty-five miles would be without electrification, which would be an easy gap to bridge for an IPEMU.

Would this simplification in the various single-track tunnels, coupled with modern tunnelling techniques, allow Network Rail to create a fully double-tracked route from the South Eastern Main Line along the full length of the Hastings Line to Hastings?

If four trains per hour could be run between London and Hastings, that would be a tremendous improvement. At the London end of the route, the Thameslink Programme should create extra capacity for trains into Charing Cross station.

In addition, it would appear that the line is already capable of handling ten-car trains. Could this be stretched to twelve?

I am certain, that in the light of developments in the last few years, that Network Rail are looking at ways of increasing the capacity on the Hastings Line.

They’re also probably looking to do other engineering work, as there was a major landslip on the line a couple of years ago.

But in truth nothing can be done, until alternative routes are provided via Ashford and/or Brighton, as the tunnel work would probably mean that the Hastings Line would need to be closed, whilst some of the work is performed.

Unless a sensible alternative is provided, I’m sure Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells will be penning another letter to the Telegraph.


February 27, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] I discuss this in Improving The Hastings Line. […]

    Pingback by The Lewes Horeshoe « The Anonymous Widower | February 28, 2016 | Reply

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