Published: 00:00, 27 March 2014
| Updated: 11:06, 27 March 2014
Faversham Hop Festival almost hit the buffers this week after it was discovered railway engineering works have been planned over the weekend.
It meant the expected 30,000 rail passengers would not be able to travel to the town on September 7 and 8 because there will be no service.
Now festival organisers have been forced to bring forward the popular event to the weekend of August 30-31.
The move follows urgent meetings between Network Rail, Southeastern Trains and Swale Borough Council, with hop festival managing director David Thompson, who described it as a “difficult situation”.
He said: “It came as a bolt out of the blue but we took the decision to move the date of the festival in line with our policy of encouraging visitors to come by train.
“It is giving us quite a headache because the September date was announced months ago and many of the stallholders and entertainment have already been booked.
“It now means we have the job of contacting them and ensuring they can still come or find replacements if they can’t because they have already committed themselves elsewhere.
“But Southeastern Trains have confirmed that a full service with extra capacity will run for the duration of the festival on the new dates and Network Rail say there will be no disruption.
“Swale Borough Council has also offered its full support.”
Network Rail spokesman Chris Denham said engineering works taking place on the line are part of a £145 million signalling upgrade and could not be rescheduled.
Swale Borough Council leader Andrew Bowles said: “I am delighted all parties involved have been able to work together to ensure the Hop Festival goes ahead this year.
“This is an important event for the community of Faversham, and the rest of Swale.
“We fully support the works to strengthen transport links across Swale which will bring huge benefits to our economy and regeneration plans for the borough.
“However, It is equally important to ensure the success of the Hop Festival is not hampered by the works being carried out across the south east.”
This story originally appeared on the front page of the Faversham News which mistakenly says August 30 and August 31 is a bank holiday. It is not. We are sorry for any confusion.
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