Push for faster capital trains gets on track

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THE CAMPAIGN to secure quicker trains between Eastbourne and London is gathering pace, with lobbyists working on possible changes to put to central Government.

Having been inspired by the success of a Norwich in 90 drive in East Anglia, business leaders in Eastbourne have joined together with the town’s MP and passenger groups to try and force through a similar scheme between the south coast and the capital.

The trip currently takes around an hour and a half but the local delegation believes that can be trimmed by around 20 minutes – making Eastbourne a far more attractive prospect to both businesses and commuters.

Rail operator Southern runs the route but is likely to face stiff competition from rival firm First Group when the contract comes up for grabs in 2015. And, when it is renegotiated, the Department for Transport will be in a strong position to demand improvements to the line to whichever company ends up the preferred bidder.

That is why Stephen Lloyd MP and his band of campaigners are stepping up their efforts now so all parties are left in no uncertain terms about what is acceptable on the Eastbourne to Victoria route. The group, called Fast Track Eastbourne, has been in discussion this week over possible alterations to the line which could secure such an ambitious time saving. And among the early ideas are plans to remove Clapham Junction or Haywards Heath stations from some capital services.

Talks are at a very early age but Fast Track Eastbourne members have been asked by government staff to put forward time saving suggestions. The Herald is backing the campaign, which has also draw support from Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Eastbourne Hospitality Association, Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council and East Sussex Rail Alliance. And editor in chief Keith Ridley said, “Eastbourne has a wonderful chance to improve its rail links to London and we cannot underestimate the huge impact that would have on the town.”