Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd held her third annual Transport Summit this March, informing residents of planned improvements to look forward to across both the local rail and road networks. Let’s Do Business attended and we’re pleased to share the following update.
The Summit heard from keynote speaker Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Jones MP, who spoke passionately about the Government’s structured road investment program, which is being delivered across the UK. His address focused on areas of importance to residents across East Sussex.
He spoke of a historic infrastructure deficit and of the Government’s pledge to end this under investment, touching on initial analysis work being developed to ensure that the Government correctly identifies transport links in need of attention, before the delivery of the next Road Investment Strategy from 2020.
Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, also spoke of the importance of putting himself in the shoes of constituents, he said: “During my visit to the southern section of the A21, I saw for myself the issues that local residents face; the Summit was a chance for me to hear how we can build on our achievements so far and ensure we’re making journeys better for hardworking people across East Sussex.”
Amber Rudd commented on the MP’s journey: “We felt it was vital that the Roads Minister witnessed first-hand the great need for additional investment in this route, which could become a hugely beneficial link between our area and London.”
Commenting further Andrew Jones said: “People, businesses and the local economy in Hastings are already benefiting from the £50 million we have invested in the Combe Valley Way, while £70 million of improvements are underway on the A21 with the duelled Tonbridge to Pembury section due to open next year.”
Paul Best, Senior Strategic Planner at Network Rail, discussed the exciting prospect of hybrid trains – which will be considered for investment for the first time by Network Rail as part of the forthcoming Kent Route Study – and how they could deliver truly significant cuts in journey times between the local area and the capital, importantly without the need for extensive investment in line electrification. This would make high speed trains from London to Hastings and Bexhill a true possibility.
Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, who is working closely with Amber in Westminster to secure transport investment in High Speed Rail for the area, delivered a passionate update to attendees, he said: “Delivering our road and rail projects is vital if we’re going to be able to attract new businesses and key workers to the area.” We will watch closely to see how his lobbying affects Government action.
Charles Horton, CEO of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs the Southern franchise, and the Passenger Service Director of Southern both spoke of how they are working to improve on recent poor levels of service.
Faced with fully understandable criticism from a local commuter in the question and answer section, it was good to hear they have plans in place for immediate improvements as well as longer-term developments in the pipeline to improve both the service offered and the information available to customers.
Matthew Arnold, Business Development Manager for Stagecoach, spoke about the company’s interest in the community and creating important links to improve the day-to-day lives of people in the area. This included a potential timetabled service between the Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Hastings Conquest Hospital, which was met with a very positive response.
The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) presented exciting news on the evolution of driverless cars; attendees could see a prototype of their cutting-edge GATEway development vehicle at the entrance to the venue. The technology and model on display proved to be a huge talking point.
Professor, Nick Reed, got everyone enthralled with TRL’s fascinating vision of a future of safer, cleaner, more flexible and more efficient transport. The ultimate dream is to reduce accidents, cut congestion and to tackle the carbon footprint of getting from A to B.
In summary, it was a busy and interesting Summit and one with a very positive, proactive feel. Attendees left well-informed and excited to track Amber’s journey to delivering her aims and aspirations for the area.