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No trains to the Sandwich Folk and Ale Festival

By Emily Stott

Track renewal work will mean no trains to the Sandwich Folk and Ale Festival.

Organisers have raised concerns with Network Rail over the planned maintenance work to railways between Dover Priory and Ramsgate from Saturday until Monday.

Michael Hammock, staff member at Sandwich Leisure with ear plugs

This will mean no trains to Sandwich during the festival, which is expected to bring visitors from around the county.

Festival director Phil Curry said they were in negotiations with Network Rail, but the timing was a real blow to the festival.

Sandwich Leisure Holiday Park, in Woodnesborough Road, has also raised concerns that it will lose significant profit. Administrator Jo Stannard said: “Network Rail said they will be working all through the night and they have warned it will be very noisy.

“They supplied us with two boxes of ear plugs, which is almost laughable, it won’t make a difference.

“This is one of our busiest weekends of the year and our trade is going to be affected.”
The holiday park has contacted campers to warn them but has found many people put off staying there.

Ms Stannard added that she hoped to claim compensation for the money lost.
She added: “Network Rail’s line is that the work has been planned for two years – if it’s been planned for two years then why wasn’t anybody told before? We only found out two weeks ago.”

Committee members of the Sandwich Folk and Ale Festival

She explained that several of the acts for the festival were also staying at the park, which could mean a sleepless night for the musicians.

Nearby residents are also concerned that the work is being undertaken at the wrong time of year.

Mike Matthews, of Ash Road, said: “There has been no consultation with local residents at all. It has just been imposed upon us at a time of year when people tend to sleep with their windows open.”

Mr Matthews is concerned that the overnight works at level crossings will cause disruption to those living nearby.

Both Ash Road and Woodnesborough Road crossing will be closed during the work, which will mean limited access to the town for pedestrians.

The Ash Road crossing will be closed from Saturday at 9pm until 6.30am on Monday and the Woodnesborough Road crossing will be closed from 6pm on Saturday until 6.30am on Monday.

There will be no pedestrian access for Ash Road but there will be an attendant helping people cross at Woodnesborough Road.

For festival-goers there will also be a full bus replacement service.

Adam Littlewood, project manager at Network Rail said: “There will be bus services between Dover Priory and Ramsgate stopping at all stations.

“We are also employing extra security staff to allow people from the campsite safe foot access to the festival via Woodensborough Level Crossing. Crossings in work areas would ordinarily be completely closed.”

Normal trains will still be running during the day on Saturday until 7pm, when work will commence.

Chris Denham, media relations manager at Network Rail, said: “We appreciate this is an inconvenience for people and apologise, however, track renewal work is absolutely vital for the railway.

"It will result in a smoother journey for passengers and a quieter one.

“We plan our engineering work at least a year to 18 months in advance.

“We do our best to inform people who we think will be effected but it’s not possible to do a consultation because we have to plan so far in advance.”

More maintenance work will then continue from Saturday, July 19, till Monday, July 28, with Woodnesborough Road level crossing closed.

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