Construction of Dover Fastrack, Kent’s first zero-emission bus service connecting Whitfield with Dover town centre and Dover Priory railway station is to start this month following the award of the construction contract to Colas UK Projects Ltd by Kent County Council (KCC).
KCC is managing delivery of the project on behalf of Dover District Council (DDC), with the two councils working together to meet a shared ambition to see the district and county become carbon neutral by 2050.
Work begins on the scheme this month with construction expected to take around 18 months. With the project’s strong focus on carbon reduction, Colas will plant more than 10,000 new trees, shrubs, and hedgerows, and provide enhanced wildlife habitat in the area.
Construction of the rapid bus transit system includes a new bus, cycle and pedestrian-only bridge across the A2 at Whitfield, and a new link road from the B&Q roundabout in Whitfield to Dover Road at Guston. The junction with Dover Road will be for buses, bicycles, and pedestrians only.
A fleet of new electric buses will operate on Dover Fastrack. KCC worked in partnership with Volvo to trial the electric alternative in 2018 and has been awarded funding as part of the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.
Dover Fastrack also creates an effective transport interchange with high-speed train services from Dover Priory railway station, ideal for commuting, business, and leisure trips to and from London. It will also provide a quick and easy way to reach the town centre and Dover Castle.
Dover Fastrack is backed by central government with £22.9m from a funding programme designed to help stimulate new housing development at Whitfield and the former Connaught Barracks site. DDC was awarded the grant by Homes England and is working in partnership with KCC as the highways authority.
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “We’re excited that Dover will boast Kent’s first zero-emission bus service, demonstrating our commitment to improving public transport options so that local people have real alternatives to car journeys.
“Dover Fastrack represents the biggest investment in public transport in Dover for many years and is key to the delivery of new housing at Whitfield and the former Connaught Barracks site, and our ambitions to cut carbon emissions.”
David Brazier, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “I am delighted to confirm that, after a lot of preparatory work and negotiations, work on this exciting project is about to get under way.
“It is vitally important that public transport provision is extended and improved, and the Dover Fastrack is a major step forward with that ambition.”
Sophie White, Director Infrastructure Grant at Homes England, said: “Our role as the Government’s housing agency is to work with partners like Dover District Council to build new homes for the people who need them most. We’re pleased that funding through the Housing Infrastructure Fund will help the council to build infrastructure which will provide sustainable travel links to support those new communities in the future.”
The project will create local employment opportunities and Colas will also use a significant number of Kent-based SMEs as part of the supply chain, which will help to maximise local economic benefits. The team will arrange STEM awareness sessions in schools, colleges, and universities.
Colas employees will also carry out volunteering days to contribute to projects that improve the local community and environment.
Executive Director at Colas Sean Jeffery said, “Colas is delighted to have been awarded this project and the team are looking forward to continuing to work with Kent County Council developing projects that support Kent County Council’s ambition to be net zero.”