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No date for new Eurostar trains to stop at Ashford despite £10m signal upgrade

By Paul Francis

Rail chiefs say they are still working on a solution to technical problems that have halted new Eurostar trains from stopping at Ashford.

It emerged this week that work is still going on to resolve the issues despite the launch of a £10 million upgrade to signalling systems earlier this year.

No date has been fixed for their return to service but county council transport chiefs say they are confident a solution will be found.

Eurostar e320 train
Eurostar e320 train

The issue was raised at a KCC rail summit held yesterday.

The services were stopped within days of a high-profile launch of the service at Ashford International station attended by the transport secretary Chris Grayling.

The 17 'e320' trains have remained sidelined because of problems with a new £10m signalling system.

Stephen Gasche, KCC’s principal transport planner, said: “All parties are working very closely and effectively together.

"Investigations and testing involving all partners are continuing with the aim of finding a resolution to the problem.

"All project partners are absolutely committed to securing a resolution to the problems and continuing international services from Ashford...” - Stephen Gasche, Kent County Council

"In the meantime, Eurostar refurbished trains continue to serve Ashford on all existing routes.

"All project partners are absolutely committed to securing a resolution to the problems and continuing international services from Ashford.”

But he said there was no date set for the services to be resumed.

“You simply have to trust us and feel reassured that's the problems we have encountered will be resolved.”

He was “100%” confident the issue would be addressed.

It remains unclear exactly what the problems are other than that they are described as technical difficulties.

The e320 trains boast free wifi, built-in power points, "ergonomic reclining seats", 20% higher capacity and a top speed of 200mph.

Speaking at the launch last month, Ashford MP Damian Green said it would have been unacceptable if the new generation of Eurostar trains were unable to stop at the International Station.

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