Published: 17:35, 15 October 2020
| Updated: 19:14, 15 October 2020
A proposed "under-the-hour" rail service from Dover to London has been described as a "complete game changer".
Southeastern chiefs said this week they were hopeful about plans to improve an existing high-speed rail link from Dover Priory to London St Pancras, which would take less than 60 minutes of travel time.
Earlier this week, Scott Brightwell, Southeastern's train services director, said a proposal to increase rail capacity across several Kent routes, including Dover to London, continue to be discussed with Network Rail.
Speaking at KCC's 12th annual rail summit, he said: "It is also worth saying that the journey time of under an hour from Dover to London is included in that scope of work.
"These are early days and there is lots of work to be done on these proposals, but that is definitely within the scope of solutions we are looking to propose."
Dover council leader Trevor Bartlett (Con) said quicker trains to England's capital would be a "complete game-changer" for the district. He said it would likely encourage more investment from businesses within the area and lead to housing being "snapped up" by the London market.
The quickest journey time on the existing high-speed route from Dover to London is listed as one hour and five minutes via Folkestone, Ashford, Ebbsfleet and Stratford and costs around £46 for a day return although single tickets can be snapped up if purchased in advance for around £13.50.
"The news is music to my ears as it will be a big asset to us..."
But, Cllr Nigel Collor (Con), who is the transport cabinet member at Dover District Council, said residents have told him that London journeys from the east Kent town have been achieved as fast as 53 minutes.
After the rail summit, Cllr Collor said: "The news is music to my ears as it will be a big asset to us.
"It's something we have been trying to get for some time as we have had a running battle with the rail industry about getting the high speed extended to Dover Priory."
There has largely been cross-party support, but Cllr Kevin Mills (Lab), the opposition leader at Dover council, says the authority also needs to look at the "bigger picture".
The Buckland councillor said: "Anything that reduces travel to London and the area's accessibility to the capital is going to be good but the real issue is Dover does not represent the entire district.
"We need to make sure that there are services in Walmer and Deal and the surrounding areas because not everyone can get to Dover."
He added that there are around 30 parking spaces at Dover Priory station, off Folkestone Road, saying that capacity needs to significantly increase to stop commuters parking on nearby residential streets during busy times.
As the local transport boss, Cllr Collor added that he would be pressing Network Rail and Southeastern on their assurances as he seeks a timeline for the proposed improvements.