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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 20:33 GMT 21:33 UK
Chunnel link could take commuters
Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Commuters in Kent could benefit from high speed trains by 2007
The Strategic Rail Authority has announced it wants to use the new high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link to run fast domestic services through Kent.

It is recommending to the government a comprehensive service which will include the Medway towns and east Kent.

Only Dover and Maidstone look set to miss out.

Some existing traditional services will be axed to make way for the new high speed trains and both the old and new services will be run by Connex's successor.

Under the plans, fast commuter trains will run to London from the Medway towns, Ashford, Folkestone, Canterbury and Ramsgate.

The new trains will be able to travel at 200 kilometres per hour, meaning journey times will be significantly reduced.

Local economy will benefit

Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling has to make the final decision later this year, and has said he will only give it the go-ahead if it offers good value for money.

Medway Council believes the new service would benefit the local economy by about 230m.

Dr Richard Simmons, of Medway Council, said it was great news for the area.

"We're very pleased we've been recognised as a key destination for the new Channel Tunnel services.

"We want to know a bit more detail from the Strategic Rail Authority, but it's great news that the investment in this area will now flow."

He explained that although it was important to have good access into London, areas like Chatham needed more people working in them.

"People will be able to come out from London to work in these areas too," he said.

"We reckon we will get about 120m of investment if we have those fast services."

Mr Simmons said he was hopeful the SRA would get the go-ahead, particularly as the government had already given the area 56m for its regeneration.

"I don't think they'll have made that investment without giving us the transport links to make it work."




SEE ALSO:
High-speed Channel link opens
16 Sep 03  |  England
Passengers may lose out on Link
10 Apr 03  |  England


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