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Boost in peak hour services on the Thameslink franchise around Maidstone East

Rail commuters from Maidstone are to benefit from more peak hour services to London - but will have to wait until 2018 before doing so.

The Department for Transport says the new Thameslink franchise is to include an extended peak period service from Maidstone East to several stations serving the City of London.

The delay has been caused by the rescheduling of the government timetable for awarding contracts to new operators following the fiasco of the West Coast Main Line franchise.

Maidstone East station
Maidstone East station

The new service will restore a City service for commuters who lost out four years ago.

There was outrage when Southeastern axed its Cannon Street service from the County Town in 2009, saying it could no longer provide them without a government subsidy.

The new service will operate from Maidstone East via West Malling (for Kings Hill), Borough Green & Wrotham, Otford, Swanley, St Mary Cray, Bickley, Bromley South, Elephant & Castle, Blackfriars, City Thameslink and Farringdon to St Pancras.

There will be at least two trains per hour during the three-hour morning peak period to London, with the same level of service during the three hour evening peak period from London.

Trains are disrupted due to weather
Trains are disrupted due to weather

In addition, the service will operate outside peak periods, although the exact times of these has yet to be determined.

Cllr David Brazier, Kent County Council cabinet member for transport, said:

“This is good news for commuters using stations on the Maidstone East line who need to get to work in various City locations.

"This announcement demonstrates that our Rail Action Plan for Kent is bearing fruit.”

The county council has argued that the prospect of more commercial and housing development at Kings Hill and Borough Green means more demand for peak hour services.

It will also provide a useful link direct to St Pancras, providing connections to a wide range of domestic and international services for passengers.

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