The fast train should travel from Dover to London in sixty minutes and Deal needs two high-speed services every hour, I have told the Transport Minister.
My "essential requirements" were included in a letter to Paul Maynard. Co-signed by 10 other Kent MPs as well as Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill, it comes in response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the South Eastern franchise. Operators are bidding to run the train franchise from 2018 to 2027.
The letter calls for extra carriages on overcrowded services during peak hours and expresses concerns over the quality of service offered to customers of Govia's Southeastern.
It says: "Passengers are dissatisfied. With insufficient room to stand at times and with some season tickets at more than £6,000 they feel they are not getting value for money."
We list several essential requirements that the new operator must put in place. They include:
Faster services to East Kent – in particular to Dover in an hour (Dover in 60), two trains to Deal and Sandwich every hour and a one hour service from London to Thanet; The modernisation of the points and signalling on the Kent Fast line to facilitate overtaking and faster services; Better connections with Gatwick Airport, in particular the restoration of direct services from Tunbridge Wells & Tonbridge.
The letter also sets out a number of essential requirements for Network Rail. They include:
Significant improvement in its contribution to train performance; A plan to further reduce journey times;Improvements to the Tonbridge to Hastings infrastructure for Kent and East Sussex; Capacity improvements at Ashford including connecting the high-speed line to the line at Rye and Hastings;Sufficient capacity at major stations to cope with the forecast growth in demand;Improvements in signalling on the route from Ashford to Folkestone, Dover, Deal, Sandwich and Ramsgate, and completion of the East Kent re-signalling scheme between Canterbury West and Ramsgate.
People said we would never get the fast train in Deal. Yet thanks to our community campaign it now sweeps into the station every hour of every day. Now we need to see the service improve – with two high speed services for Deal and Sandwich an hour.
And we need to see the fast train get to Dover in sixty minutes or less. Faster services will attract even more people to visit our stunning corner of Kent.
It's great that the Kent MPs have yet again united to fight for better services in our county. Together we make a powerful case and I hope the Transport Minister considers it carefully.
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