Published: 11:45, 25 January 2018
Maidstone MP Helen Grant has demanded a meeting with the government’s rail minister after throwing her weight behind a Kent Online campaign to save the County Town’s high-speed trains to the capital.
It was revealed last week that the popular 52-minute services to London St Pancras - which also travel via Snodland, Strood and Gravesend each morning and evening - could be sensationally axed in favour of an alternative route to Abbey Wood.
Following the launch of our petition, more than 700 readers have already voiced their opposition at the proposals, which were included in a series of service requirements for bidders when the new rail franchise is awarded in December.
The Department for Transport claims it would offer a good option for passengers by providing “attractive journey times” to locations such as Canary Wharf, though bidders would need to demonstrate the clear benefit to passengers over the existing high-speed service.
Conservative MP Mrs Grant said: “I took great pleasure in launching the high-speed service for Maidstone back in May 2011 and I am 100% behind the KM campaign to preserve this under the next franchise arrangement.
“I have already written to the new rail minister Nus Ghani requesting a meeting and await a response. Meanwhile I have also signed the petition and would encourage others to do so as well.”
Maidstone Borough Council has also outlined its concerns, with potential bidders racing against time to submit their case to the DfT by the March 14 deadline.
Councillor David Burton, chairman of the strategic planning, sustainability and transport committee, said: “We understand three potential providers have been shortlisted.
“As part of the initial consultation process the council stated we wanted to see the existing high-speed services retained and expanded, not reduced.
“It is estimated that the journey time to Abbey Wood would be between 50 and 55 minutes. Connecting services via Crossrail to Canary Wharf would add an extra 11 minutes, meaning a significant increase to journey times.
“We are talking to all the rail franchise bidders about their proposals to ascertain their intentions.”
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