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Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009
Kent's High Speed connections
By Hannah Ratcliffe
BBC Kent

Inside a high speed train on its way to London
Inside a high speed train on its way to London

The high speed trains from Kent to St Pancras International in London form the UK's first high speed domestic service.

From 13 December, the new timetable brings about the biggest change in over 40 years to Kent's railway service.

The timetable brings improvements to some parts of Kent while in others there is a 'compromised' service.

200 trains are to run everyday between St Pancras and 21 Kent stations travelling at up to 140 miles per hour.

Bringing the high speed service to Kent cost £5.8 billion and is the country's largest ever single construction and engineering project.

Dubbed 'Javelin' trains, journeys will get up to 140 mph between London, Ebbsfleet and Ashford. Along the rest of the route the trains travel at a speed closer to that of standard trains.

A better service

I travelled on some of the preview high speed services, which started in June 2009, and I asked commuters what they thought of the new service:

A high speed training arriving at Ashford International
A high speed training arriving at Ashford International

Ashford

"For £3 extra I'm going to do the journey in half an hour which means 10 minutes longer in bed! I'd actually expected it to be more expensive. I think it's £3 more than if I had a Travelcard which is for the tube but I don't need the tube if I'm going to St Pancras."

Ebbsfleet "It used to commute from West Malling, after 7:30 I used to find it really difficult to park, so it was a bit stressful. The car parking here is fantastic and the total journey door-to-door saves me half an hour which is well worth having in a busy working day."

Folkestone "I work over in West London, so going to St Pancras is a lot more convenient...not having to spend so much time a train is really good, so you're making a lot more use of your time I guess."

Ramsgate "I used to take the 6:10 or the 6:30 to Cannon Street, now it's 7 o'clock, 7:05, still gets in at the same time. To go from Heathrow into central London and to come from here into central London is pretty much the same now, I would love to see Manston airport expand a little bit more and get more flights especially into Europe."

A worse service

The addition of a full timetable of high speed trains means adjustments need to be made to all existing services running to and from Kent.

Laura Cloke at Maidstone station
Laura Cloke at Maidstone will not benefit from high speed

Laura Cloke from Maidstone commutes to London

"It's really not good for people in Maidstone. We've lost services, they're cutting services that go to London Bridge and London Cannon Street and all trains apart from a couple of early services will go to Victoria. It will add extra time to my journey, there'll also be an extra financial cost as I'll have to pay the tube fare."

Chris Irvine travels from Rochester to work in North London

"It would benefit me because working in north London, it would give me direct access to St Pancras which isn't too far from where I work. Unfortunately, they're going to be charging a 25% premium for using the high speed service, basically it's pricing it out of the reach for a lot commuters."

Roy Coppins works in the Gherkin, he commutes from Herne Bay

"I've travelled from Herne Bay for a long, long time and we will still have a slow-ish service to St Prancras because we can't pick up any speed at all until we hit Ebbsfleet. There are two disadvantages with St Prancas; one is the premium fare, secondly the cost of travelling on the underground."

Monitoring the service

Charles Horton, Chief Executive of Southeastern, speaking on the Southeastern website said, "the majority of passengers will see an improvement in services, but as with all timetables, some compromises have had to be made and not everyone will be satisfied. However once we've introduced the timetable we will monitor services closely and work with the Department for Transport to make any adjustments which are necessary."




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