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Trains named after top athletes

21 September 09 15:13 GMT

Olympic cycling champion Jamie Staff has unveiled the first of 12 high-speed trains to be named after Britain's best athletes.

Staff, 36, who was part of the men's sprint team that claimed gold in Beijing, unveiled a plaque on "his" train at Ashford International Station.

The athletes were chosen in a public vote to pick names for the Japanese-built Class 395 140mph Javelin trains.

High-speed trains are currently running a limited Kent to London service.

The full service will begin on 13 December.

Staff, who comes from Ashford, unveiled a train bearing his name which went into service immediately.

He said his family was moving back to Ashford this winter, but he would continue to train three days a week in Manchester.

"My legs are screamingly sore," he said.

"I think things get a little harder as you get older but I am going to keep on going and take it a year at a time."

Fastest in country

Train operator Southeastern said trains bearing the other athletes' names would come into service over the next couple of weeks.

Fellow Kent athlete Dame Kelly Holmes will also have a train named after her.

The others will be named after Steve Backley, Sir Steve Redgrave, Rebecca Adlington, Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Daley Thompson, Duncan Goodhew, Katherine Grainger, Lord Sebastian Coe and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.

"Our high speed trains are the fastest in the country so it seems only appropriate that we name the first 12 after Britain's fastest," said Southeastern managing director Charles Horton.

The preview service began running in June from Ashford to London St Pancras and was extended to Dover last month.

Southeastern said the service to Dover had been so successful it would be increased from six carriages to 12.

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