On 30 April 2014, Kent rail user groups backed KCC’s fight for a better deal for the county’s commuters.
Delegates at the 6th Rail Summit heard how season ticket prices to the capital are between 7% and 12% above those from other counties, for similar journeys.
David Brazier, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, chaired the meeting at County Hall. He said:
“It is clear that commuters from Kent are paying significantly more for their rail journey to work when you compare annual season tickets from destinations in other counties. Our commuters have borne disproportionate fare increases and we are lobbying government, which regulates this area, to address it.
“This is not just a financial burden for residents. We are concerned that it is impacting the appeal of Kent for those looking to move from London, where property prices are significantly higher.”
The Rail Summit also heard about improvements to the county’s rail services planned for the next major timetable change. The key outcomes of Kent County Council’s ‘Rail Action Plan for Kent’, which are now approved by the Department for Transport for delivery in January 2015, were highlighted by Stephen Gasche, KCC’s rail officer:
- All day high speed services to Deal and Sandwich following an initiative by KCC to support an initial period of peak-only services
- Improved off-peak journey times from some North Kent line stations following removal of joining and dividing of trains at Faversham
- New Thameslink City service in peak periods (and part of off-peak periods) from Maidstone East, West Malling (for Kings Hill), Borough Green and Wrotham, Otford and Swanley direct to Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St Pancras from May 2018
- Cannon Street services to be retained on Hastings line via Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks
- But no direct service between Ashford and Gatwick following a report demonstrating service would be unviable.
The event also heard from Charles Horton, Managing Director of Southeastern Railway; John MacQuarrie, from the Department for Transport; and Pierre Delalande, Head of Public Affairs at Eurostar.
Mr Delalande told delegates that Eurostar recorded more than 10million passenger journeys last year, with 27 trains serving Kent stations each weekday. He also updated the meeting on planned expansion of services to the continent, including to the South of France next year, and from 2016, a London to Amsterdam service.