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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 10:20 GMT
Trains connect coast with Europe
Hastings station
Hastings is one of the towns along the new direct route
A new direct rail service linking Ashford International with Brighton for the first time is getting under way.

Previously, travel between the Sussex city and Kent's Eurostar link involved two changes of trains.

The service will also link towns such as Eastbourne, Rye and Ashford without the need to change at Hastings.

"This is a key factor in promoting business development along this part of the south coast," said Eastbourne Mayor Graham Marsden.

Leave car

The new route will cut the journey time between Brighton and Ashford by 30 minutes.

"It should be an encouragement to those looking to use Eurostar to leave their cars at home and travel to Ashford by train instead," said Mr Marsden.

Brighton's mayor Bob Carden will see the train off at its official launch on Monday.

It will be met at Ashford by the town's deputy mayor Norman Ayres.

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