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Major investment by Network Rail and Kent County Council will mean shorter journeys between Ramsgate and London

By Mary Louis
A high speed train operated by Southeastern between Kent and London

Rail users will benefit from quicker journeys between Ramsgate and London as a £10 million investment in line improvements is implemented.

Network Rail and Kent County Council are each committed to spending £5 million on upgrading line speeds between Ramsgate and Ashford International over the next five years.

This is part of a £2.3 billion investment by the railways operator in the region’s rail network.

Network Rail spokesman Chris Denham said: “The aspiration is to bring Thanet within an hour of London. We think we can shave at least five minutes off the current journey times between Ramsgate and Ashford by increasing the line speed from the current maximum of 70 to 80 or 90 in some places. The work is programmed and we will be getting on with it as soon as we can.”

Network Rail crews at work upgrading the line. Picture: Chris Denham, Network Rail.

The quickest journey time between Ramsgate and London St Pancras on High Speed One (HS1) is currently 1hr 15mins on the commuter train that leaves Ramsgate weekdays at 06.58. This service stops only at Canterbury West, Ashford and Stratford, not Ebbsfleet, on the way to St Pancras.

The fastest journey to Stratford International is currently 1hr 6mins. This service is heavily used by many people in east Kent commuting to Canary Wharf.

Many travellers change at Stratford and use the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) or Jubilee line to get elsewhere in London.

Mr Denham said Stratford was “really well connected”, with Waterloo just half an hour from Stratford.

HS1 domestic services were officially launched from Ramsgate in December 2009, with a journey speed to St Pancras of 1hr 17mins. There were some ‘shadow’ services running before then.

Mr Denham said the rail service from Margate to Cannon Street would benefit greatly from Network Rail’s major improvements currently under way at London Bridge.

He said: “These improvements will make a massive difference to people who take that train, reducing delays and improving reliability.”

The Margate-Cannon Street rail journey is 1hr 45mins.

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