Page last updated at 20:13 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

High speed rail travel: Your views

The Japanese-built Javelin
The services use Japanese-built Class 395 140mph Javelin trains

The new high-speed train service operating between Kent and London St Pancras has been officially launched.

The Japanese-built Class 395 Javelin trains, run by Southeastern, can reach speeds of up to 140mph.

BBC News website readers have been telling us their views on the new service.


I was on the same train from Rochester as Lord Adonis this morning - and it would appear that the future of rail travel in this country in the government's view is trains 1/4 full (and the majority of those being press and the good Lord's entourage). Oh that this was true of the entire network given the cynical changes to the timetable to force people onto the Javelin trains.

The service was certainly quick and comfortable to St Pancras - but my door-to-door journey was only 15 minutes faster than on the classic route (I work in Westminster). Plus the additional cost of over £1400 per annum for using this service means that it is unlikely the time savings will outweigh the cost for me. I suspect, given the near empty carriages this morning, that I am not alone in thinking this.

A good service - but one aimed more at the people of Ashford and beyond who can benefit from the HS1 over their whole journey, rather than those of us in north Kent who only get 15 minutes on the HS1.

Christopher Betterton, Rochester

I arrived at Gravesend Station this morning to catch the 0722 high-speed service to London St Pancras, only to find that the train had been cancelled due to a lack of staff. It was a disgraceful and inexcusable start to Southeastern's new service.
Gary Lofthouse, Gravesend, Kent

Yes, the new trains have made a difference. There are now LESS trains and a LONGER journey time (unless you can afford to pay the premium). How can this be called an improvement?
Joanna, Faversham, Kent

Yes they have made a difference. Although I could travel to St Pancras daily and it may shorten my travelling time slightly, I cannot afford the very expensive fares and am, therefore, forced to travel to Victoria where the evening train service have been cut drastically. People were already standing for up to an hour before the cuts. Along with many others, I'm dreading tonight's journey home tonight. Thanks Southeastern!
Pauline, Gillingham Kent

I have used the new train service since the summer between St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International and it has transformed London travel for Kent residents like me. We can now get to London in record time and it is a very smooth and pleasant journey. I would normally get a coach into London for work but the train saves me almost two hours of my time per day, improving my quality of life beyond my wildest dreams. It's been a long time coming but the wait has so been worth it!
Julie, Gravesend, Kent

My London journey time (from Faversham) has increased 70 to 80 minutes (to Victoria) with the new timetable and the number of daytime trains has halved from four to two per hour to make space for the St Pancras trains - which are of no use to me. The first discounted price train of the day (with a Network railcard) to Victoria is now also nearly half an hour later than previously. Not what I call progress.
Stan Kirk, Canterbury UK

This morning it seemed to go OK, but I guarantee that won't last for long. My train is more or less unchanged, but trains back home from Victoria in the evening are less than I had before, they really have cut back, and apparently we are getting less carriages on our trains too! The only good thing about this change is the semi-fast trains will now stop at my station! I believe that this a big mistake for Southeastern and I think they will run at a loss as it's far too expensive and doesn't really help most people who work either in the London Victoria or City area, as it goes completely out of the way! I reckon, watch this space this time next year they will have realised their big mistake.
Sam, Rochester, Kent

These new high-speed trains will make a great difference to my journey. I'll now have to leave earlier and get home later thanks to Southeastern cutting services to accommodate these new trains from Medway. It'll now be standing room only on the way home as the 1748 and 1804 services from Victoria will be merged into one service.

Morning services have been moved back and forwards to yet again accommodate these services - of which this morning were barely half full! Oh, and we'll get another rise in season ticket prices this year. This is a service which benefits no-one but the rich.
Rob Newton, Medway

I'd like to see how many people will actually use the new service. An extra £700 per year to arrive 15 minutes faster just isn't worth it, especially when a season ticket is over £3500 already. I don't know of anyone that will use it everyday. There will still be a poor service just about every weekend and last train of the day because of engineering works and as yet I don't think Southeastern has any Javelin buses to use as a replacement. How I wish I was at Kings Cross today to 'meet and greet' The PM and Lord Adonis.....
Neil Holness, Faversham, Kent

I used the preview service recently and was impressed, you don't feel like you are travelling by train in Britain, it's so good! Everything is modern, fast, clean, efficient....I could go on! This is way we all should travel by train.....with this we have had a taster of what is possible with investment and what many other countries already have on a much larger scale. I do hope however that graffiti and glass scratching vandals don't get their hands on them like many of the other trains in Kent. PS I do have one criticism and that's the automated onboard announcements (added to by those made by the staff too), they just go on and on!
Andrew, Colchester

Had to scoff this morning, on arrival at Gravesend Station the 0752 train to St Pancras was cancelled due to staff shortages. Surely they could get it right on day one?
Paul, Gravesend

Seeing as how they have cancelled the trains I would normally catch in order to make room for these new trains and I have no intention of paying the extra £800 per year to travel to a station from which is inconvenient (to say the least) to get to my place of work all they have done for me is turn an unpleasant commute into a total nightmare.
Martin Betts, Gillingham

While this new rail service may be impressive, the idea that its acceptable to charge £52.50 - or even £44.40 on the slower route - for a journey of about 70 miles is laughable. A diesel car can cover the same distance on £8-worth of fuel. Even when you factor in the depreciation on the vehicle, insurance and annual maintenance because it's dramatically cheaper. High-speed rail is a great thing but as the French understand with their TGV network, it has to be cheap in order to make any appreciable improvement to the general transport situation. Otherwise people will look up, and admire it as it overtakes them, but they'll still be driving up the motorway tomorrow.
Chris Emery, Rickmansworth

Far from increasing and improving the service from my local station (Teynham) it has been halved from two trains per hour to only one, thereby making life much more difficult for those people who rely on public transport for their business, leisure and shopping etc. Rather than taking cars off the road this will serve only to increase congestion in a particularly busy part of the south east.
John Tilling, Teynham, Sittingbourne

The high-speed service is bad news for me. It does not stop anywhere near where I live, and the timetable changes mean that services from my local station now take LONGER! Southeastern will have to run these high speed services at capacity to get their money back - and with a whacking premium on the tickets I think that is unlikely. Metro commuters didn't want a high-speed line - we just wanted our services to run on time and not be cancelled!
Steve, Dartford, Kent

Great, so to use this I have to travel 20 minutes the wrong way, catch a "fast" train to St Pancras then trek back across London? £6m a train for a *slower* journey to London, shouldn't this have been spent improving what we have instead of jumping at the shiny new toys?
Tom, Staplehurst, Kent

While the South East is benefiting from new lines and new modern trains, we in the North West have to put up with trains far inferior to the trains these new ones will be replacing. Commuter services into Manchester are typically two coaches with bus-style seats designed for people of about 5'6" or shorter and very slim. We can only dream of 8-10 coach trains, even if the regular users loathe them. It's time that rail investment was spread around the country a little more.
Peter, Wigan

Personally I benefit from the new trains, having shaved 50 minutes off my commute. However, I know plenty of people whose commute has been seriously affected and cannot afford the 20-30% premium for high-speed, and do not want to go to Stratford or St Pancras as they would need a lengthy tube journey adding extra expense. They now have to get up earlier to catch a train to their desired terminals as they have reduced the frequency of classic trains. The government may have 'invested' in a new line, but they are making certain everyone using it pays for it as quickly as possible! Unlike the majority of Europe where subsidies are a recognised way to encourage high uptake of rail travel.
Simon Gravesend, Kent

I can now choose between an expensive service that is 6 minutes quicker than previously and goes where I do not wish to go to or an artificially made slower by 25 minutes journey to where I need to go at 50% more than it was 5 years ago and half an hour slower than it was when we relied on steam trains. Not much progress for the North Kent commuter. And we cannot buy a paper or coffee at Herne Bay Station or even get an idea of which trains are on time, late or cancelled until 0630. How much notice will be taken by people like Gordon Brown who does not have to get by tube from Westminster to St Pancreas - he will have been driven. No clue at all for anyone involved!
Peter Burgess, Herne Bay, Kent

The new service may have arrived on time and be considered a great success but the rest of the trains serving the vast majority of the commuters from Kent were in complete chaos! If this is an "anti-green" policy trying to force commuters back to their cars then it is certainly working. Even when Southeastern manage to run the trains to the new timetable my journey from home to office and back is going to take considerably longer due to the reduction in service for stations between Swanley and Rochester. I am seriously considering getting back in my car! A very disgruntled train commuter.
Maureen Freeman, Hartley, Kent

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