Folkestone on track for high speed trains

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2005 - 05:09 PM


The long-awaited news that the fast rail link is to come to Folkestone was warmly welcomed by all political groups in Shepway this week.

The Strategic Rail Authority has announced its plans for the high speed rail service, and confirmed that Folkestone will be included in the route.

The final Integrated Kent Franchise specification, which will incorporate the new high speed services with the existing “classic line� services, includes proposals for an hourly service all day from Folkestone Central to London St Pancras in just 57 minutes. The new service, which is not due to start until December 2009 at the earliest, will also stop at Folkestone West and Sandling, and there will be additional trains in the peak periods giving a 30 minute frequency for commuters.

Shepway Council Leader, Robert Bliss, said: “We are all absolutely delighted with this week’s good news. We shall be meeting with the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) as soon as possible to discuss details of the new service, which will now be put out to tender to the four “pre-qualifying� companies. We shall also be considering the necessary improvements to be made to the district’s infrastructure in the light of the new high speed service.�

Transportation Officer Stephen Gasche added: “We shall also be pressing the SRA for an assurance that any interim service between London St Pancras and Ashford will be extended to Folkestone from day one, so that Shepway residents can benefit from the new high speed rail link as soon as it is completed in 2007.�

The campaign to bring Folkestone’s case to the attention of the SRA and the government was spearheaded by the Rail for Folkestone Group. “I would like to thank everyone who backed the campaign, signed petitions and wrote letters of support,� said Cllr Bliss.