TAKE IT TO THE BRIDGE: ROTHER VALLEY TO CROSS JUNCTION ROAD
A further section of the Kent & East Sussex Railway’s Robertsbridge extension is to be built this year – crossing the major hurdle of Junction Road. The Rother Valley Railway has planning permission to reinstate the line on one-third of a mile of trackbed between Junction Road and Austens Bridge, which it acquired last year (SR468). The first part of the plan, dubbed ‘Project 4A’, will involve the construction of a level crossing over the B2244, and the second half (‘Project 4B’) will be the re-laying of the permanent way. RVR trustee Mike Hart said: “We hope to get track down towards the back end of the year – it’ll mean there’s less to do when we get the last bits of trackbed.” He added that the railway is “about to submit” its application for a Transport & Works Act Order, covering the whole three-mile extension from the KESR’s western railhead of Bodiam to the main line junction at Robertsbridge. The RVR has yet to acquire Austens Bridge itself, so named because its construction in 1947 was one of the last projects undertaken by Colonel H.F. Stephens’ deputy William H. Austen prior to nationalisation. The owners of the bridge, and of two further sections of trackbed leading to the RVR’s western section at Robertsbridge, are unwilling to sell. A passing loop has been proposed on the Junction Road-Austens Bridge section, part of which is already double-track width, as a siding was originally laid here to serve the local hops industry. However, RVR Communications Officer Trevor Streeter clarified: “We’re currently discussing with the KESR about where they want the loop to go, and it may be the other side of Udiam Farm.” At the line’s Robertsbridge Junction headquarters, £200,000 is needed to complete the station building, which will be in the Colonel Stephens style but larger. A toilet block to the same design was erected last year (SR467).