Folkestone peak rail services saved

Contributed by editor on Sep 03, 2009 - 11:05 AM

The 'Rail for Folkestone Group' have succeeded in persuading Southeastern to retain the hourly commuter service to Charing Cross and get an extra train service to Cannon Street.

The Shepway Council Group members, which include Cllr David Godfrey and Cllr Susan Carey are in buoyant mood after their successful meeting with senior managers from rail operator Southeastern which brought about the changes.

Cllr Godfrey said: "This was a fantastic result, I am very pleased the Charing Cross service has been retained and that Folkestone will soon be benefitting from the high speed service."

Councillor Bliss, Leader of Shepway Council, said: “We are pleased to confirm that, as a result of Shepway representations, after today’s very positive meeting there will now be an hourly direct service from Folkestone Central, Folkestone West, Sandling and Westenhanger to Charing Cross in the morning peak. As well as this, the rail operator has provided an additional train from Folkestone to Cannon Street, to serve City commuters.”

A Southeastern spokesperson said “We want to work with local authorities and stakeholders to give them the best possible service. We are pleased to have been able to meet Shepway’s aspirations.”

The new High Speed service to St Pancras starts its full timetable on 13 December, with a half-hourly service in the peak periods and hourly for the rest of the day. The journey time will be between 54 and 59 minutes, a timing below the hour for which the Rail for Folkestone Group has long campaigned.

There will also be a preview High Speed service starting on 7 September, with two trains from Folkestone Central and Folkestone West to St Pancras in the morning peak and two back in the evening peak.

Councillor Bliss added: “This is a fantastic result for Shepway, and proves the value of our dedicated Rail for Folkestone Group which has been working closely with Southeastern and its predecessors since its creation in 2001. Shepway will have the best of both worlds, with fast trains to London St Pancras in under an hour and regular services to London Charing Cross and Cannon Street throughout the day.”

The new timetable will be published in the middle of September.

© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2009