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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 13:33 GMT
Dame Kelly opens 2012 'gateway'
Ebbsfleet International Station
Ebbsfleet is the second station on the High Speed 1 rail link
Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes has officially opened the new Ebbsfleet International Station.

The north Kent station, just off junction 2 of the M25, is Eurostar's second station on the UK's first high-speed line - High Speed 1.

London's new St Pancras International opened on 14 November.

The new station is being billed as a gateway to the 2012 Olympics for visitors coming from mainland Europe by high-speed rail.

Dame Kelly said she was delighted to officially open Ebbsfleet International station.

"Ebbsfleet International is now the fastest and greenest way to reach the opportunities of Europe, ahead of the competition," she said.

Entice travellers

More than 50 business leaders from Essex, Surrey, Sussex and Kent boarded a Eurostar train to Paris to mark the opening of the new station.

The company hopes the station will entice many of the potential travellers in the Home Counties away from the capital's airports and onto its 160mph trains.

Journey times from Ebbsfleet are 1 hr 10 min to Lille, 1 hr 41 min to Brussels and 2 hrs 5 min to Paris.

The 100m station was built by London and Continental Railways and is central to the realisation of the Ebbsfleet Valley regeneration project.

Over the next 20 years, developer Land Securities aims to build 9,500 homes, as well as shops, leisure and community facilities such as schools and health centres.

Eurostar finance director Ian Nunn said: "It's not just the station.

"It is a catalyst for Ebbsfleet Valley, a new community for up to 40,000 people."



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