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Railways: Eastbourne

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 19 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to improve the transport infrastructure of (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex for the purpose of (i) facilitating economic growth, (ii) reducing environmental damage and (iii) widening access to services and opportunities to the population. (141896)

Local transport plans (LTP) are the mechanism by which local authorities undertake transport improvements at the local level. The objectives of the East Sussex LTP include the reduction of congestion to improve the efficiency of the transport network, the protection of the environment and the improvement of access to services. East Sussex county council received over £10 million from Government to implement its LTP in 2007-08. In Eastbourne the plan's objectives will be delivered via the Eastbourne local area transport strategy which is aimed at addressing local needs.

In addition a number of improvements to the trunk road network in east Sussex have been prioritised by the south east region for funding from the regional funding allocation for major transport schemes. The A27 Southerham-Beddingham improvement (£32 million) is currently under construction and, subject to successful completion of statutory procedures, the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (£47 million) and the A21 Baldslow junction improvement (£18 million), have both been prioritised for funding by the region over the next five years to 2010-11. East Sussex county council have reported that the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road estimated cost has increased to around £89 million and the region are currently considering whether it is still a priority at the higher cost. In addition, £15 million worth of congestion relief improvements on the A27 at Wilmington have also been prioritised by the region for 2015-16.

On 22 May we published a consultation document ‘Strengthening Local Delivery’ accompanied by a draft Local Transport Bill. The draft Bill would ensure that local authorities have the right mix of powers to improve their local bus services, following on from the proposals in ‘Putting Passengers First’.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Bill, currently before Parliament, provides for a national bus travel concession for older and disabled people in England. The Bill extends the existing statutory concession of free off-peak local bus travel within an eligible person's local authority area, introduced in 2006, to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England, widening access to services and opportunities for a significant number of Eastbourne and east Sussex residents.

With regard to Rail investment, figures are not available specifically for east Sussex but the county will benefit from a number of recent improvements. All older ‘slam-door' rolling stock south of the Thames has been removed from the network. The electric multiple units now used by southern TOCs are less than three years old, and are more reliable, and faster than their predecessors. With the accompanying power supply upgrade of recent years, passengers on Southern, Southeastern and South West Trains have also benefited from £2.7 billion worth of investment since 2003.