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Ashford to get more high speed train services from Europe

By Paul Francis

Ashford can expect to see more high speed services from Europe after the completion of a £10m project that has upgraded the track and improved signalling.

The possibility of new continental operators on High Speed 1 to and from different destinations was hailed by the transport secretary Chris Grayling as an important development for the economy in Kent and the south east.

His presence at an event at Ashford station to mark the completion of the project underlined how significant it is considered by the industry.

A Eurostar train. Library image.
A Eurostar train. Library image.

The minister said it represented “a massive boost to the local economy” and was an example of the government’s commitment to modernise the network “delivering faster, more direct services and more comfortable journeys.”

The improvement to what is known as the Ashford spur means that the track now meets international standards and can be used by other train companies from Europe.

The station’s platform has also been changed to make it compatible with trains from other countries.

Mr Grayling said the introduction of a new service to Amsterdam this week - which will not be stopping at Ashford - was an example of how international travel between the UK and the continent was making journey times quicker and more convenient.

Ashford MP Damian Green said: “What this project does is to secure a future for Ashford and the eight strategic projects it has set.

"The preservation of services at Ashford International is not just good news for Ashford and Kent but looking further afield, East Sussex and places like Hastings.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

"This genuinely is a cause for celebration.”

John Halsall, Network Rail’s route managing director in the south east, said: “This project is a perfect example of how the railway can play a strong role in the continuing economic development of the south east.”

Eurostar has introduced a new fleet of Siemens e320 class trains that it says will improve the quality of journeys for passengers.

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