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High speed trains at risk of reduction in Deal and Sandwich

By Eleanor Perkins

Talks have been held with rail ministers to ensure Deal and Sandwich don't lose out on their fast links with London.

It has emerged that the number of direct high speed trains between Kent and London could face reduction in the next franchise.

New specifications state at least 12 high speed trains per day in each direction must stop at Deal and Sandwich.

MPs in Deal and Sandwich do not want the number of high speed trains to reduce
MPs in Deal and Sandwich do not want the number of high speed trains to reduce

If met on minimum basis, it would mean a loss of two trains as there are currently 14 high speed calls to London.

There are 17 high speed trains between London and Dover and this number will remain unaffected.

Concerned MPs Charlie Elphicke and Craig Mackinlay demanded a meeting with rail minister Andrew Jones to call for more direct services for the towns.

Mr Elphicke, who represents Deal, said: “We fought so hard to get the fast train sweeping into Deal all day, every day. Now we want to secure more trains - especially at rush hour.

“The minister was left in no doubt about our strength of feeling on this.

"I was grateful he took our concerns on board and hope that we now see action.”

MPs Charlie Elphicke and Craig Mackinlay with rail minister Andrew Jones (centre) (8306433)
MPs Charlie Elphicke and Craig Mackinlay with rail minister Andrew Jones (centre) (8306433)

Mr Mackinlay, MP for Sandwich, said: “Maintaining frequent connectivity from Sandwich to London is vital for our local economy and enterprise such as the superb Discovery Park, especially if Sandwich is going to make the most of hosting The Golf Open in 2020 and future years.

"As such, I am glad the minister has listened to our concerns.”

The high speed service to Dover was extended to Sandwich, Deal, Walmer and Martin Mill in 2011 following a long campaign.

It meant journey times to London were reduced from around two hours to one-and-a-half.

The Department for Transport is yet to choose an operator for the next Southeastern franchise, stating a decision will be made later this year. Current providers Govia as well as Stagecoach and Abellio have made bids.

The high speed service was extended to Deal, pictured, and Sandwich in 2011
The high speed service was extended to Deal, pictured, and Sandwich in 2011

The MPs also called on the department to improve station facilities.

At Sandwich around £4 million is being invested ahead of The Open golf event at Royal St George’s.

And following a recent campaign, major refurbishment works have been agreed at Deal and Dover Priory train stations.

Deal will get a new deck and steps as part of a complete refurbishment, while major improvements to the footbridge at Dover Priory have also been confirmed.

To address reported antisocial behaviour at Deal including "train surfing", a senior officer from British Transport Police has been allocated to the station for the first time.

Mr Elphicke added: “I was pleased rail bosses responded to our campaign and stepped up to get our train stations back on track.

“Yet I am determined to keep fighting. Our area has benefited so much from improved train services and deserves the best possible transport links.”

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