High speed trains delayed

Contributed by editor on Oct 27, 2004 - 09:03 PM


New trains to operate o­n both domestic railway tracks and the new high speed channel tunnel rail link track through Kent are to be built by Hitachi Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced today.

The trains are now due to be in service in 2009, two years later than planned.

They will reach speeds of 140 mph. but it is still uncertain as to which towns will benefit .

It is thought Gravesend, the Medway towns, Sittingbourne, Folkestone, Canterbury and Ramsgate will get their fast commuter link to the capital, but there is doubt over the link being extended to Dover because of problems associated with the Shakespeare tunnel between Folkestone and the Channel port.

The service will provide high speed train services from Kent to St Pancras and will support new housing and economic opportunities in the Thames Gateway Growth Area. The new trains will also play a crucial role in the 'javelin shuttle' in London's Olympic transport bid which will move spectators from central London to the Olympic Park in Stratford in under 8 minutes.

The order is expected to be for about thirty (6-carriage) trains introduced in 2009. The Invitation to tender for the new Integrated Kent Franchise will be issued later in the Autumn at which point the full service pattern will become known.

Alistair Darling speaking as he visited the new terminal being constructed at St Pancras said:

"We’re today confirming the new high speed domestic service which will make use of the new channel tunnel rail link. The UK gets maximum benefit from the high speed track which is already delivering faster services to Europe.

"This service will also be the flagship transport scheme to deliver people to and from the Olympic Games should the UK bid be successful. It will move people from Kings Cross to Stratford in under eight minutes.

"The technology o­n these trains is cutting edge which could help reduce journey times between Ashford and central London by 40 minutes each way."