Amazon and WiFi across the Southeastern fleet

Improving local transport remains top of Hastings MP Amber Rudd’s list of priorities.

That was her message last week after hosting her fifth ‘rail summit’ in Hastings which included a presentation from the government’s rail minister Jo Johnson

The summit brought together representatives from central and local government and rail infrastructure companies to update local people on the progress being made towards delivering high speed journeys and the measures being taken to improve customers’ experiences.

After the meeting Ms Rudd said: “Improving our local transport has always been one of my top priorities as local MP. That is exactly why I hold annual summits to allow our residents to ask questions of local and central government as well as our rail companies to ensure that we are getting the best services possible.

“I am pleased that representatives from all of these bodies took the time to join my rail summit. It has been very interesting to get an update from those on the panel and I am glad that our residents were able to voice their opinions on some of the issues they hold most dear.”

Rail Summit Jo Johnson
Jo Johnson pictured speaking at the 2018 Hastings Rail Summit. L-r: Amber Rudd, Ray Chapman, Huw Merriman, Andrew Wood and Angie Doll.

Attendees at the event, including constituents, members of the local business community and representatives of the area’s councils and rail user groups, heard presentations from:

  • Huw Merriman (Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle)
  • David Wornham (Director of Passenger Services, Southeastern)
  • Angie Doll (Passenger Services Director, GTR)
  • Andrew Wood (Senior Commercial Scheme Sponsor South East Route, Network Rail)
  • Matthew Arnold (Commercial Director, Stagecoach South East)
  • Graham Peters (Chair, Team East Sussex; Vice Chair, South East Local Enterprise Partnership)
  • Cllr Keith Glazier (Leader, East Sussex County Council; Chairman, Transport for the South East)
  • Jo Johnson MP (Minister of State for the Department for Transport)

The event was chaired by Ray Chapman of the East Sussex Rail Alliance.

David Wornham of Southeastern provided updates on the improvements that have been made across the network and fleet. Investment has been made in two additional dispatch teams at London Bridge to improve efficiency during evening peaks and improvements in passenger communications and signage. All 392 units have been installed with Wi-Fi and motion infotainment will be available over the next few months, including free Amazon Prime content, audio books, magazines and games.

Network Rail set out the initial design work that has been completed with £200,000 of investment from East Sussex County Council and the Department for Transport. The second part of the design for Phase 1 will be costed by late Autumn with work expected to commence in early 2020. Improving resilience on the Govia Thameslink network is a major project for Network Rail, in February 2019, the entire signalling system will be replaced, south of Haywards Heath, having first been installed in 1982. Half of the problems that occur across the entire Govia Thameslink network are on the lines to Brighton and Lewes from Three Bridges.

Vice Chair for South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Graham Peters outlined how HS1 would act as a catalyst for economic growth, adding: “Our physical connectivity lags far behind our aspiration and potential, this holds back our businesses in connecting them with the wider world.”

In his presentation, Councillor Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council and Chair of Transport for the South East, spoke of central Government support for the infrastructure of the South East, with £1m of initial funding granted by the Department for Transport to invest in a transport strategy for the South East, he said: “The County Council priority is driving sustainable economic growth.”

Rail Minister, Jo Johnson set out in his remarks that the Department for Transport set a minimum requirement for the new Southeastern operator, meaning they must run fast services to London throughout the day and not only in peak travel times. He said this will drive more tourism, more jobs and more growth for the local area.

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