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On track for the rail link

By This is Sussex  |  Posted: June 17, 2009

  • John Boddicombe ( sadly recently deceased ) assisted by Chris Sweatman working on the Robertsbridge to Bociam railway line

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BIT BY bit the disused railway line between Bodiam and Robertsbridge is being rebuilt by a team of dedicated volunteers.

The combined efforts of the Rother Valley Railway Historic Trust, Rother Valley Railway Ltd, Rother Valley Railway Supporters' Association and the Kent and East Sussex Railway are working towards joining the two villages by rail once more.

The purpose behind the venture is to boost tourism in the region by providing public transport from the Southeastern Trains-run station at Robertsbridge and the National Trust property, Bodiam Castle.

The line would link with the current steam rail service running between Tenterden and Bodiam, and on completion would be incorporated into the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

The project has seen great progress in recent months at both ends of the line, with about 700 yards of track built at Bodiam towards Junction Road, and 850 yards from Robertsbridge Station to Northbridge Street.

Mike Pease is vice-chairman of the supporters' association, which is carrying out the work at the Robertsbridge end.

"If we can link into Network Rail, and so to people coming from London or Hastings, that will take a huge amount of cars off the road, meaning far less pressure on trying to straighten little country lanes around the Rother Valley which is obviously very beautiful and sensitive."

He explained how the four groups worked in tandem.

While the supporters' association works at Robertsbridge, members of the trust have been buying the land between the villages which the limited company will then work on, along with volunteers from the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

Mr Pease is joined by about 15 other association members who work on the line regularly, relaying track, but also working in the Six-Five Special café, which provides the main income.

The café carries its own history – it was the reception office for the Orient Express at London Victoria before being moved to Sussex and is now an authentic 1950s Teddy Boy café.

Anyone interested in helping should call 01580 881 833 or email reception@rvr.org.uk

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