If only trains ran on hot air

If only trains could be powered by the hot air that has been generated this last 20 years.

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All the rail ‘carrots’ dangled in the lead up to privatisation (when John Major said - really he did - we would have a railway that would ‘be the envy of the world’) - all the local benefits - electrification to Ashford, restoration of that route to twin track, reopened station at Marina, a new one at Glyne Gap, a couple of restored miles between Pevensey and Polegate that would cut out that needless trek into and back out of Eastbourne (Brighton accessible in 35 minutes) and reopening Lewes Uckfield...

Once again, over to the DoDN rail division - the Dept of Do Nothing, the same government department who’s road division does equally nothing to deal with numerous local issues such as Ridge West which has become (as predicted) a semi permanent log jam since the Link Road opened. All these local transport issues - nothing done.

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As for the scandalous overcrowding on the hopelessly inadequate two car diesel trains (most of their mileage is over electrified track) on the Brighton Ashford service (Marshlink), this has been a serious problem for years.

Words and expressions like ‘innovation’ and ‘winning combinations’ have been spouted by the rail hot air industry as it regularly congratulates itself on actually achieving nothing that British Rail couldn’t have - and in the case of the Marshlink route via Rye, has progressed backwards.

The ‘new’ Viva Rail trains mentioned in a recent Observer are not new at all - they are old London Transport trains, refurbished, fitted with diesel engines and nothing more than stop gaps.

The obvious solution is to do what they were waffling on about 20 plus years ago - electrify Marshlink, restore it to twin track and simply integrate the route into the South East electrified network. Little need for rocket science.

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And until that’s done, the diesels should operate between Hastings and Ashford only with a cross platform connection at Hastings. This would at least cut out instances of people at Brighton, on occasions, being unable to get on Ashford trains because they’re so full. Four car electric, Brighton Hastings, to connect with the two car diesel and in the meantime, get on with electrifying Marshlink!

Simon Stoddart

Queens Road


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