Published: 16:35, 15 October 2018
| Updated: 17:16, 15 October 2018
Kent County Council has written to the rail minister to express concerns over the delay of the planned new Thameslink service to Maidstone East.
KCC transport cabinet member Mike Whiting wrote to Jo Johnson to express the concerns of many rail passengers in Kent at the continued delay to the introduction of the promised service.
Mr Whiting, said in his letter: “You will be aware of the dismay in Maidstone particularly, and in many other locations in mid and west Kent, at the decision taken earlier this year to defer the delivery of this service to December 2019.
“I urge you to consider the adverse impact on Kent’s rail passengers and local economy were there to be any further deferral of the Thameslink programme in Kent.”
Kent County Council has been determined to have a branch of Thameslink services terminating at Maidstone East, and has campaigned over several years, with other councils and rail travellers’ associations, to get the planned terminus for Thameslink services transferred to Maidstone East.
Kent County Council has always regarded this new service as a critical enhancement in the overall capacity in Kent’s rail network, with the stops at West Malling (for Kings Hill), Borough Green & Wrotham, and Otford (for passengers from the wider Sevenoaks area) being essential to re-balance the travel flows between mid-Kent and the City of London.
In his response the rail minister, Jo Johnson, stated: “I fully understand the importance of having fast regular services to the City and beyond from Maidstone and Sevenoaks.
“Please be assured that the Department will work closely with the [rail] industry to deliver these improvements as soon as possible.”
The response from the Minister did not however include a commitment to the delivery of Thameslink services to Maidstone from December 2019, and so Kent County Council and other local authorities will continue to make the case for their introduction no later than this date.
More by this authorGuy Bell