Published: 17:29, 20 October 2018
| Updated: 17:32, 20 October 2018
Maidstone Borough Council plans to join forces with local businesses and MPs to pressure the government for more trains to London.
Town councillors plan to write a joint letter with Kent County Council, business leaders, Maidstone MP Helen Grant and Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat.
The letter would demonstrate how the economy and residents will be affected if fast trains are not introduced in Maidstone soon.
It comes after several delays to the introduction of a Thameslink Service from Maidstone East to London.
Trains would also stop at West Malling, Borough Green, Wrotham and Otford and travel to London Bridge, Blackfriars and St Pancras.
It was originally going to be introduced in May, but it has now been scheduled for December 2019.
This has been confirmed in a letter to Cllr Rob Bird from the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.
This will also affect commuters in Sevenoaks as plans for a train from Welwyn Garden City have also been pushed back to May 2019.
Many residents and businesses had moved due to these plans, according to a council report.
“An improved rail service undoubtedly is really important to the economy of Maidstone and even more to our residents who rely on it for their everyday use to get to their jobs..." - Cllr Shellina Prendergast
On top of that, the Department for Transport intend to reduce the requirement for high-speed services from three journeys during peak time to two.
The government has also suggested adding a service to connect with Abbey Wood and Crossrail.
Both of these options have received “universal condemnation” and the leader of Kent County Council has written to the rail minister to reconsider.
Cllr Shellina Prendergast (Con) said: “An improved rail service undoubtedly is really important to the economy of Maidstone and even more to our residents who rely on it for their everyday use to get to their jobs.
“I think between the authorities we should continue to lobby to ensure Maidstone gets the service it needs and deserves.”
Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem) said: “The staff at the Department for Transport have let Maidstone down very badly indeed.
“The treatment of Maidstone, which has lost its mainline rail services eight years ago, is absolutely appauling.”
He added it takes “well over an hour” to get to London, which is “not good enough”.
More by this authorCaitlin Webb, local democracy reporter