Published: 18:39, 15 September 2021
| Updated: 14:02, 16 September 2021
A further delay to the return of direct Eurostar international train services from the county has been branded "bad news for Kent".
Last month Eurostar announced bookings for its trains had doubled, leading to an additional 39 trains being run as travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic continued to ease.
It was previously said services from Kent could potentially resume next year - but now those hopes have been dashed.
"This is bad news for Kent and bad news for Ashford," borough council deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett said.
"Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council will need to move at pace to re-instate the services as soon as possible."
A spokesman for Eurostar, whose sole UK station is now London St Pancras, said the firm will review its decision to by-pass Kent stations towards the end of 2022.
"We can confirm that our Kent stations will remain closed throughout 2022," they said.
"As the business starts its recovery, we need to focus on core destinations where demand is highest."
Before Covid-19 hit, up to two daily services to Paris and one to Brussels ran from Ashford International.
At Ebbsfleet International, five services were offered to the French capital and three to Belgium.
Eurostar promotes its services as the most environmentally-friendly choice for travel to Europe, with each journey using up to 93% less CO2 than the equivalent flight.
Ashford MP Damian Green's response to the news of the further delay signalled the potential for a fight to ensure the services return in future.
He said: "I have discussed re-opening Ashford’s international services with Eurostar, and there is no disguising that this is a very disappointing announcement.
"Passenger numbers are still well down, and Eurostar have made it clear that they will only re-open Ashford an Ebbsfleet when it is commercially sensible to do so.
"Next year is going to be crucial in arguing the case for a resumption of services from Ashford."