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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Coastal towns keep direct trains
Passengers disembarking from a Southern Electrostar train
Southern is now operating 700 new Electrostar trains
Rail commuters from Hastings and Bexhill in East Sussex will not be deprived of direct train services into London, it has been announced.

The government's Route Utilisation Strategy for the Brighton main line had proposed off-peak and some peak time passengers should change at Eastbourne.

But Rail Minister Derek Twigg said on Tuesday that performance improvements meant direct trains could continue.

Campaigners said the news was testament to the hard work of local people.

David Getty, president of the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said: "It always seemed a rather perverse decision to downgrade the service at a time when the economy of Bexhill is in the process of regenerating.

"I am delighted to hear the announcement today."

Mr Getty was involved in protests and petitions with the Bexhill Rail Action Group and the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, Gregory Barker.

Mr Barker said: "This is undoubtedly a victory for a huge campaign that's been run in the town and is a very welcome U-turn from the Government which recognises the importance of train services to the future of Bexhill."

I am delighted there is now no need to curtail these services
Rail Minister Derek Twigg

The plans were initially announced due to late running Hastings/Bexhill services "having a detrimental impact on the punctuality of other mainline trains".

However, Mr Twigg said performance on the Southern Railway franchise had improved over the past five years with almost nine out of 10 trains now running on time.

"It is entirely right that we should review decisions in the light of changed circumstances," said Mr Twigg.

"I am delighted there is now no need to curtail these services," he added.

A Southern statement said: "The minister's recognition of our hard work to introduce new trains and deliver the network's best performance for many years is greatly appreciated."


SEE ALSO:
Gatwick Express train to be axed
03 Feb 06 |  Southern Counties


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