When Amber Rudd was re-elected as MP for Hastings and Rye, one of her priorities was the construction of a high-speed rail link between Hastings and London. Two and a half years later, talks are still underway between business leaders, politicians and rail users. Ms Rudd hosted an event at Sussex Coast College on Friday to discuss the matter.
It currently takes seventy-eight minutes to get from Hasting to Kings Cross and this will be reduced by ten minutes once the rail link is completed. The low average house prices of Hastings are an attractive proposition for people wanting to move out of London, but unless the rail link goes ahead, it is unlikely Hastings will see many more commuters moving down to the seaside town.
Discussions at the summit revealed that the rail link is expected to be a reality by 2024 at the latest. The chairman of East Sussex Rail alliance, Ray Chapman, told the Hastings Observer: “Amber Rudd is the first MP to actively take on rail and we have seen some massive improvement. We feel collectively if we bang our heads against the wall we can knock it down”.
Many students have also voiced their concerns, as better connections to London would increase job and work placement opportunities. Hastings University student Andy Preston said: “I would love a quicker train to London, I’m planning on doing an internship there, it would be so much easier with a faster service.”
Discussions are set to continue, with South-eastern's rail contract also up for negotiation next year, which could impact the future of the London services.