Sussex and Coastway

An integral part of Railfuture's London and South East regional branch, our Sussex and Coastway Division holds eleven meetings a year in a variety of venues across East and West Sussex.


Our area covers East and West Sussex (including the City of Brighton & Hove, and the 'MarshLink' to Ashford International in Kent), and includes the South Downs National Park, but excludes the far south west area of West Sussex which is covered by Railfuture Wessex branch.

Within our Sussex & Coastway Division there are seven Rail User Groups affiliated to Railfuture:
We also work closely with Three Oaks & Winchelsea Action on Rail Transport (THWART) - email John Spencer jds at winsea.plus.com

The local Community Rail Partnership in our area is the Sussex CRP.


We usually meet on the first Thursday of each month (except August) at 18.00, rotating our venues around East and West Sussex including Brighton & Hove.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 6 February at Southwick in the Community Room of Nautilus House, Shoreham Port. Guest speaker will be Paul Best, Senior Strategic Planner with Network Rail briefing on latest developments with their West Sussex Connectivity work. Unusually, this meeting will start at 15.00, until 17.00

Our guest speaker on 9 January 2020 in Cooksbridge was Phil Hutchinson, GTR's Head of Strategic Planning, who explained the new timetable from May 2020 to accommodate the works to rebuild Gatwick Airport station concourse and associated platform alterations.

Our guest speaker on 7 November 2019 in Hassocks was Paul Harwood, Network Rail's Investment Director, Southern Region, explaining the rebuild of Gatwick Airport station concourse and associated platform alterations, starting works next May.

Our guest speaker on 3 October in Durrington-on-Sea was Network Rail's Simon Hulse, updating us on their West Coastway Connectivity CMSP work - see How to improve West Coastway rail services under Activities below.

Our guest speaker on 18 July in Haywards Heath was TfSE's Transport Strategy Manager Rob Dickin, who manages the development of the transport strategy as well as leading on engagement with the rail industry. See his presentation here.

Our 4 April meeting in Worthing was on the theme How to improve West Coastway rail services with presentations (click on name to view) from the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE), West Sussex County Council, and Network Rail. See Network Rail's more detailed presentation to West Sussex stakeholders on 28 January 2019. Refer also to Network Rail's presentation on Continuous Modular Strategic Planning to the Tunbridge Wells Public Transport Forum on 7 February 2019, below.

Our guest speaker on 7 February 2019, just before a weekend closure and then the 9-day closure of the Brighton Main Line south of Three Bridges to Brighton and to Lewes: BML-IP, was Network Rail's Orlagh Ennis, Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Brighton Main Line Improvement Project. View her comprehensive presentation by clicking on NR-BML-OE.


The Sussex and Coastway division is leading two major campaigns:
  • Uckfield Lewes. Reinstating a rail link between Uckfield and Lewes will enable residents of the Weald to travel to reach jobs and education in Brighton to support economic growth and spread prosperity in the county, create an additional route between London and the South Coast to help relieve the Brighton Main Line, and pave the way for Thameslink 2. Development of a garden village in the area served by the line would both meet the need for new homes to satisfy Brighton's growing employment market, and justify reinstating the railway between Uckfield and Lewes to serve it.
  • Marshlink. Reducing journey-times by raising the line-speed between Ashford and Doleham from 60mph to 90mph and from Doleham to Ore/Hastings from 40mph to 60mph, and redoubling the single line section either between Rye and Winchelsea or between Rye and Appledore will enable a service frequency of two trains per hour; electrification would enable a cleaner quieter service. This will provide the potential for through trains between Bexhill/Hastings and London via Ashford International which will support economic growth particularly in Hastings, and an improved service at the smaller stations.
We contributed to the East Sussex Rail Strategy and Action Plan. The two key objectives of the Action Plan are to upgrade and electrify Marshlink and the Uckfield line, as building blocks for a high speed Javelin service between Bexhill/Hastings and London St Pancras and reinstatement of Uckfield - Lewes.

How to improve West Coastway rail services - following their first workshop for West Sussex stakeholders on 28 January 2019 and their presentation to our 4 April 2019 Worthing meeting, Network Rail in June published a West Sussex Connectivity CMSP Newsletter, and a West Sussex CMSP Market Study. In August Network Rail published a second West Sussex Connectivity CMSP Newsletter and then held a second workshop for West Sussex stakeholders on 19 August 2019; see notes and feedback. Our 3 October meeting in Durrington-on-Sea had an update presentation from Network Rail.

View two presentations to Tunbridge Wells Public Transport Forum on Thursday 7 February 2019:
Branch Vice-Chair's on A rail future for Tunbridge Wells.
Network Rail's on Continuous Modular Strategic Planning (CMSP)

Latest news and developments with the two campaigns feature in the centre pages of every railse, our quarterly branch newsletter.

In conjunction with local rail user groups calling for an improved service on Marshlink, we have held a number of station counts and supported the protest meeting at Winchelsea station on 7th December 2013 to call for the return of a usable Sunday service. From Sunday 13 December 2015 all-day, alternate-hourly, Sunday services returned to Winchelsea and Three Oaks stations.

As part of the London & South East regional branch of Railfuture, the Sussex and Coastway Division has contributed in the past 10 years to every form of consultation response, including Local Transport Plans, Local Development Frameworks, Multi-modal studies, Route Utilisation Strategies, DfT franchise proposals, and proposed timetable changes.

Previous Meetings

Our guest speakers on 19 July 2018 in Haywards Heath were Catherine Folca from Transport Focus and David Statham and Andy Wakeford on behalf of the Rail Delivery Group, on the topic of fares and ticketing, currently undergoing public consultation until Monday 10 September. View the presentations by clicking on RDG-DS/AW and TF-CF.

On 7 June 2018 we had presentations from Antony Merlyn from GTR and Victoria Garcia from Brighton & Hove Buses, on the theme of Accessibility. View the presentations by clicking on GTR-AM and B&HB-VG.

On 20 July 2017 we had a presentation from GTR's Passenger Service Director for Southern & Gatwick Express Angie Doll.

On 1 June 2017 we had a presentation by GTR's Head of Strategic Planning Phil Hutchinson, who returned to update us on the next phase of their 2018 timetable consultation. Another topic for brief discussion was our Division's contribution to the Railfuture response to the consultation on Network Rail's draft Kent Area Route Study, central to plans for HS1 services for Rye, Hastings and Bexhill and continuation of the through Ashford-Brighton service (see MarshLink).

On 3 November 2016 we had a presentation from Paul Best (Strategic Planner, Sussex - Network Strategy & Planning), Network Rail.

On Sunday 18 September we had a stall at Haywards Heath Railway Station 175th Anniversary. More info: HH175

At our 8 September meeting we had a presentation from GTR's Head of Strategy Phil Hutchinson about their draft 2018 timetable consultation, launched that day for a 3-month period.

At our 7 April 2016 meeting in Eastbourne, we reviewed the third Hastings Summit organised by local MP Amber Rudd, held on 18 March, and discussed strategic issues to raise at a rail meeting convened by East Sussex County Council for Friday 22 April.

The previous meeting on 10 March was held in Haywards Heath and jointly with our Surrey division as we were addressed by Piero McCarthy from GTR/Southern.

At our meeting on 16 July 2015 in Haywards Heath, held jointly with our Surrey Division, Network Rail's Mike Smith, Route Enhancements Manager and Paul Best, Strategic Planner for their South East Route (Sussex and Kent Areas), joined us and informed a wide-ranging discussion about projects for delivery in the current CP5 until 2019 and the Sussex and Kent Area Route Studies looking forward to potential CP6 investments post-2019.

Stay up-to-date with all Railfuture and other regional and national events and key rail dates.

Keep up with other London & South East rail development campaigning news in our branch newsletters: quarterly inter-railse and monthly railse.

Take Part

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jcbblack at yahoo.co.uk - Convener John Black
michael.j.davies21 at btinternet.com - Minutes Secretary Rev. Michael Davies

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