Community rail partnership on track


The Marshlink Community Rail Line held its AGM in Rye Town Hall on Friday (12th November 2021). It was the first meeting the CRP had held in person, and the first meeting held in Rye Town Hall, since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.


Kevin Boorman, the chair of the CRP, said :- “It was great to be able to meet properly again, we were very careful to keep Covid precautions in place. I was especially pleased to see so many volunteers at the meeting, as they really do put ‘community’ in the CRP.


“Our local MP Sally-Ann Hart gave the keynote speech, stressing the importance of rail travel. She reminded us that the Marshlink played a vital part in keeping local communities connected, and that we had to ‘use it to keep it’. Sally-Ann repeated her commitment to lobby for rail improvements, including the extension of high speed services to Rye, Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne via HS1.


“We also had a really interesting and thought-provoking presentation from Rob Whitehead, local train company GTR’s community engagement officer. He made it clear there was so much more to the railway than running trains, and gave an insight into some of the work undertaken by the train operating company and its staff that is rarely heard about. This included helping with foodbanks, collecting overcoats for homeless people and explaining that they were the first train operating company to adopt a homelessness charter, helping staff raise funds for local charities, training staff to help prevent suicides, tackling mental health, helping young people find employment, and working with charities, including a women’s refugee group and a local prison to find a use for the hundreds of bikes abandoned at railway stations. Rob also explained in detail how local stations had benefitted from improvements over the past few years.


“The railway has changed a lot in the past 20 months, and although long distance commuting may have reduced, local and leisure journeys have recovered to their pre-pandemic levels. It is clear that the railway still has a major role to play in the lives of local people. I would like to thank Catherine Simmons, the Marshlink line officer, the other CRP officers and directors, Southern and Network Rail staff and the many local volunteers who work so hard to keep the Marshlink at the heart of our community.”


Pic taken at the AGM in Rye Town Hall shows l to r Catherine Simmons, Rob Whitehead, Kevin Boorman, Sally-Ann Hart MP and Kate Richard, Southern’s local station manager