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Optimism growing over new train station in Park Farm, Ashford

By Vicky Castle

Councillors are 'optimistic' that plans to build a new railway station in Park Farm will go ahead.

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) confirmed it is in the process of reviewing the 'economic viability' of building a new platform, a suggestion that has been in the pipeline for well over a decade.

ABC commissioned an external report of how workable the rail halt development would be, which has recently been completed.

An ABC spokesman said officers are now ‘reviewing’ the report.

Park Farm rail halt
Park Farm rail halt

The scheme for the stop was first put forward in 2001 and involves building a brand new station on the Marshlink line between Ashford International and Hamstreet station.

While no formal estimates of the Park Farm plans have been announced, a report from engineer company Peter Brett said similar projects elsewhere have cost between £6 and £10 million.

Cllr Paul Bartlett, ward member for Kingsnorth, Mersham and Sevington, said funding has always been the biggest hurdle but he is optimistic about the long-awaited plans.

He said: "The project is always going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about it, but it is still on the cards. The funding is a major obstacle."

Ashford Borough Councillor Paul Bartlett
Ashford Borough Councillor Paul Bartlett

Cllr Bartlett said ABC are waiting for a report from Network Rail called the Kent Rail Strategy, which was due out in the autumn but is now expected in spring.

Plans to extend the High Speed One service down to Hastings are expected to be announced in the report.

Cllr Bartlett said: "If that happens it’s reasonable to conclude that there will be a pot of money and we might be able to use that for the station infrastructure for the station at Park Farm.

"It has taken a long time to even get to this stage.

Train station. Stock pic.
Train station. Stock pic.

"There was a report some years ago which said it was not viable to create a station at Park Farm because of its proximity to the town and because it would be easier for people to drive to Ashford.

"But that was before Bridgefield was built and there are still another 200 houses planned there yet.

"Finberry is coming along nicely and there’s a proposal to extend that towards the town so we are going to have a much larger number of potential passengers from Park Farm so let’s be a little bit optimistic."

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