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Southeastern plans east Kent boost to high-speed trains with new coastal loop service

11 March 2014
by Tim Collins

Commuters in Kent could soon benefit from a boost in high-speed services across the county.

Southeastern has submitted plans to provide more capacity and serve more stations on a loop service along the east Kent coast.

The decision was taken in response to a more than doubling in passenger numbers at main stations - including Ashford, Ebbsfleet, Canterbury and Dover - since high-speed services began.

Southeastern's High Speed One train service

Southeastern's High Speed One train service

Southeastern train services director Richard Dean said: "Our proposals for enhancing the high speed service are in response to increasing demand and rising passenger numbers.

"We've seen an increase of 60 to 70% in the number of people travelling to and from key stations since we introduced the high speed trains in 2009 and we expect this growth to continue.

"We've also seen an increase of 25% cent in the number of passengers visiting Kent from London and further afield.

"These proposals provide new journey opportunities for our passengers including an all day off-peak high speed service for the Kent coast, and new direct services between Maidstone East and Canterbury West.

"They offer greater choice, more seats and more frequent services for commuters and leisure travellers in Kent."

Southeastern train services director Richard Dean

Southeastern train services director Richard Dean

Under the current timetable, trains with six carriages operate on two separate routes which meet with other trains at Ashford and Faversham, before joining to travel on to Ebbsfleet and St Pancras.

The coastal loop service would see full 12-car trains run around a circular loop, which would mean shorter journey times for people who currently have to wait for trains to be joined at Ashford and Faversham.

The proposals would also see high-speed trains stopping at Walmer, Martin Mill and Birchington-on-sea for the first time and will guarantee the high speed link to Deal until at least 2018.

Breakdown of the service

• 698 additional seats from Ashford International in the morning peak
• 349 additional seats from Ebbsfleet International in the morning peak
• Two additional services from Margate and Broadstairs creating a half hourly service
• One additional service from Margate and Canterbury West at the start of the off peak
• An off-peak all day high speed service from Deal, Sandwich, Martin Mill and Walmer as part of a circular service connecting Faversham, Ramsgate and Dover Priory. This gives faster journey times to London, direct services via Faversham and Dover to London and gives Birchington-on-Sea, Herne Bay and Whitstable an all-day high speed service
• Direct services between Maidstone East and Canterbury West
• Wider choice of London terminal destinations from East Kent stations by offering a circular high speed service to St Pancras International
• Reduction of splitting and joining of services at Ashford and Faversham

The plans are currently with the Department for Transport, which is expected to make a decision in weeks. If approved, the new services will be in place from December.

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