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Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Monday, 13 December 2010
First year of high speed rail services in Kent
Javelin train
The Japanese-built javelin trains run on the high speed rail link

High speed trains from Kent to St Pancras International have now been running for year.

Southeastern trains said that 7.2 million journeys have been made on the Javelin trains since services began on 13 December 2009.

The trains can reach speeds of up to 140 mph on the high speed track linking the Channel Tunnel with London.

Gravesend has seen improvements to its service, while Deal and Sandwich now have fewer and slower trains to London.

One year into the services, Southeastern's figures showed that 67% of all journeys from Canterbury to London were made on the new high speed trains, with similar figures for journeys from Ashford, Folkestone and Dover.

The trains are there, we just want them to stop, please
Tom Roland, Trains for Deal campaign

However, the demand for services on one of the north Kent lines was so low that Southeastern halved the length of their trains, leaving £24 million worth of rolling stock parked in sidings in Ashford.

Not all towns on the high speed routes got the new services, and some, including Deal and Sandwich, have had their traditional services reduced to make way for the javelin trains.

A bad deal?

Tom Roland started the Trains for Deal campaign just as the first high speed train services began in Kent.

He said: "The trains run through empty at the moment, the trains are there, we just want them to stop, please.

"The idea of the services was to revitalise the whole of the north Kent coast and all of the seaside towns.

"This is a seaside town which has been missed out and over time it will literally be sidelined as a result."

Javelin train
The javelin trains use overhead power lines and are less affected by snow

The managing director of Southeastern trains, Charles Horton said: "Our assessment is that to stop the trains at Deal, and to incur the extra costs associated with doing that, we simply can't make a profit."

"What we have said to the campaigners in Deal, is that we are very happy to work with them....to look ahead to the next Southeastern franchise."

High speed benefits?

Christine Miller is a director of M&M Property Services, a Gravesend estate agency.

She said: "It is so much easier for people now to commute and people are now looking to move into the area. I really do think it has made , and will continue to make, a big difference."

The commuter

Sarah McKinlay attempted to use the train on the first day of the new high speed service.

She went to catch the 7.52 from Ebbsfleet on 13 December 2009, unfortunately the train was cancelled.

She commutes to London on the new javelin trains and it now takes her about 21 minutes to get into St Pancras International station from Ebbsfleet.

Speaking one year on, Sarah McKinlay said: "We definitely needed them [the high speed trains] here, but there are other parts of Kent that aren't enjoying them as much as we are able to, and that's a real problem which needs to be addressed."




SEE ALSO
UK high-speed rail link is sold
08 Nov 10 |  Business
High-speed travel for commuters
14 Dec 09 |  England
Kent's High Speed connections
11 Dec 09 |  People & Places
Routes axed for high-speed train
07 May 09 |  England


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