Boost for heritage railway group and Network Rail as new sidings open at Robertsbridge: Robertsbridge - Sir Peter Hendy in the loco named after him!

Thursday 8 Dec 2016

Boost for heritage railway group and Network Rail as new sidings open at Robertsbridge

South East

Network Rail chair, Sir Peter Hendy, opened new sidings in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, on Tuesday (6 December) linking the rail network to the Rother Valley Railway (RVR) for the first time. 

The reinstated sidings will not only help Network Rail in its continuing work to improve the train service for passengers through its Railway Upgrade Plan, but also the RVR.

As well as providing space to store engineering trains, the new connection to the heritage railway means Network Rail can use both the sidings and the RVR lines to access the railway, improving access for engineering work and testing rail equipment before it comes onto the mainline railway. It will also help trainee engineers learn their trade.

This new facility means the heritage railway is also a step closer to realising its aspiration to restore the missing link to the Kent and East Sussex Railway, between Bodiam and Robertsbridge. Delivery of new trains and construction materials will now be much easier thanks to the new sidings.

Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy said: “I would like to congratulate the teams here at Network Rail, the RVR volunteers, and all who helped make the new connection and sidings a reality. This is a tremendous example of rail organisations working together for the benefit of passengers and the public. Thank you for your dedication and well done to all involved.”

Mike Hart OBE, Trustee of the Rother Valley Railway, said: “We thank Sir Peter Hendy for coming to Robertsbridge to formally open the new track connecting our heritage railway with the mainline network. It has been a joy to work with the Network Rail team who have done a wonderful job in enabling the facility that will be of great mutual benefit and allow us to further develop the work we do together in providing training facilities for Network Rail and London Underground staff along with making possible the transfer of rolling stock between our railways.”

Mark Budden, Network Rail programme director for the Works Delivery team, which built the new sidings, said: “We have worked closely with the heritage railway team from the start of the project, sharing information and designs, as well as delivering elements of the work. The sidings will be a real boost to our engineering teams, allowing us to work much more efficiently. The fact the heritage railway will also benefit is a real bonus and I look forward to working with the RVR team in the future.”

This new facility at Robertsbridge was delivered thanks to a partnership between Network Rail, RVR, Kent and East Sussex Railway and a team of volunteers from London Underground and other organisations.  

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Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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