Published: 00:01, 02 April 2014
A new high speed train service between Ashford and Hastings is to be introduced.
It is expected to start in five years and will slash journey times between Hastings and London.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin made the announcement at a rail summit convened by Hastings MP Amber Rudd, who has been campaigning for an improvement to the high speed service.
She said: “We are now firmly on the journey to vastly improved rail travel to and from Hastings.”
High-speed Javelin trains running between St Pancras and Bexhill via Ashford International will see a journey time between London and Hastings of just 68 minutes, compared to the present over 100 minutes.
Roger Blake, of campaign group Railfuture, welcomed the news. He said: “This is a phenomenal success which will stimulate economic growth in Hastings.”
Railfuture and the St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement Programme have been pressing for electrification of the whole Marshlink line between Hastings and Ashford International.
Currently, the electrified track from Hastings towards Ashford only reaches as far as Ore, the first station.
Network Rail plans to electrify the Marshlink line between Ore and Ashford, raise the line’s maximum speed and remodel the western junctions at Ashford to create a connection between the Marshlink line and High Speed 1.
At the rail summit, Miss Rudd presented Mr McLoughlin with a specially commissioned painting of a high speed train at Hastings station.
Mr Blake presented her with a model of a Javelin train, donated by Hornby Hobbies.