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MP meets rail minister as pressure grows over delays to Thameslink service from Maidstone East

A Kent MP has met with the rail minister as pressure increases on the government to deliver a much-anticipated link between the county and the capital.

The Thameslink service - which will see commuters from Maidstone East able to hop on quick, regular trains to London - was promised to arrive in December 2019, having already been delayed multiple times, but has since hit yet another stumbling block.

Tom Tugendhat and Chris Heaton Harris (20323333)
Tom Tugendhat and Chris Heaton Harris (20323333)

The service would see trains also stopping at West Malling, Borough Green & Wrotham and Otford before travelling to popular City stations London Bridge, Blackfriars and St Pancras.

Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said last month the service was undergoing more rigorous scrutiny than previous schemes because of disruption caused by the May 2018 timetable change.

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat then requested an urgent meeting with Chris Heaton Harris, to discuss how, and when improvements on the line will be delivered.

The minister confirmed the Department for Transport intends to deliver these as soon as possible and will continue to press GTR over the matter.

Mr Tugendhat said: “I’m pleased that my campaigning for Thameslink to be introduced on the Maidstone East Line as soon as possible secured a meeting with the rail minister.

The Thameslink service connecting west Kent and the capital has been delayed several times
The Thameslink service connecting west Kent and the capital has been delayed several times

“He understood the frustration of so many people who use West Malling and Borough Green stations that GTR had delayed its introduction once again.

“It’s great he agreed with me that to deliver a better service we must see improvements delivered next year, as the current service on the Maidstone East Line isn’t good enough.

“I’ll continue to push for a direct service to London Bridge, and hope next year brings better connections on our railways.”

The meeting comes as Maidstone's Joint Transportation Board (JTB) discussed the possibility of carrying out research to show to the government the detrimental economic impact of not having the rail link.

Council leader Cllr Martin Cox told the committee the idea had been suggested in the past but would take significant time and would cost in excess of £15,000 to produce.

JTB chairman Cllr David Burton said: "It feels like we would be accepting defeat if we didn't keep pushing, and pushing with evidence is going to be far more powerful than no evidence."

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

Read more: All the latest news from Malling

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