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Politicians meeting tonight to head off train reductions

Southeastern train
Southeastern train

Politicians will meet tonight hoping to derail plans by transport bosses to reduce rail services in north Kent.

Dartford and Gravesham MPs Gareth Johnson and Adam Holloway will host a public meeting at Longfield Community Hall in Fawkham Road, Longfield, at 7pm to object to proposals by Southeastern.

Rail bosses are considering reducing services on the Chatham Main Line from three to two per hour, meaning fewer trains running to and from the capital to Longfield and Meopham stations.

A consultation has been launched until Thursday, May 31 and, if accepted, the changes will be enforced in December.

Southeastern officials say the changes are designed to improve services and capacity on trains travelling between Kent and London.

However, the MPs say the changes will have a serious impact on rail users.

Mr Johnson, who regularly commutes to Westminster from Longfield, said: “I have raised my concerns about this proposal with the Department for Transport and would encourage all those affected to attend the meeting to register their concerns.”

Mr Holloway said: “The number of people objecting to this is important, and we need to rebut the arguments of those on the east Kent coast who want fewer trains to stop in Meopham and Longfield.

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below
What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below

“If local residents spend a few moments sending me their thoughts, then I can pass these on to Southeastern before their consultation ends on May 31.

“Local councillors and the parish council are working hard on this with a petition, and it is important that as many people as possible respond to show our strength of feeling. It will also be good to see as many people as possible at the meeting.”

We reported last week that Meopham parish council had launched a petition against the proposals and has already collected more than 250 signatures.

Parish clerk Bryan Rayner (corr) said copies had been placed in shops in The Parade, Wrotham Road, and passengers leaving Meopham station are being given leaflets.

He said a letter formally opposing the plans will be sent to Southeastern this week.

A spokeswoman for Southeastern said the proposals were introduced after repeated calls for better services between Kent and the capital.

She said: “It is a draft timetable which is currently open for consultation; we’ll be taking the views of all stakeholders on board.”

She added that a final decision would have to seek approval from the Department for Transport.

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