Thursday, 17 March 2011

Government must support HS1 momentum after Pfizer 30 day report

Following the announcement of Pfizer in February that it will exit its research and development facility at Sandwich, in East Kent, by the end of 2012, the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force delivered its 30 Day Report to Ministers on 15 March 2011.

One of its key recommendations is for significant transport improvements focused on the enhancement of high speed rail. Line improvements to bring Thanet and Dover journey times to London under an hour, a new parkway station to support Manston and the Pfizer site and the extension of highspeed services to Deal and Sandwich as a priority.

Unsurprisingly the task force were told by venture capitalists that better transport links set an environment conducive to new business. Many people in East Kent have argued since its introduction the Southeastern highspeed network, which excludes a large majority of East Kent, has resulted in the economic cleansing of the area.

The line improvements and parkway station will require time before they can be accomplished but extending the existing highspeed service to Deal and Sandwich stations can be achieved immediately. Localised access to highspeed services at Deal and Sandwich will enable sustainable economic regeneration. With the addition of shuttle bus services offering direct connections from station to the Pfizer site, this would lay the transport environment foundations so desperately needed.

There are currently plans to extend highspeed services to Maidstone West starting from May when the new Southeastern highspeed timetable is released. Surprising as Southeastern and the Department of Transport have long argued the reason for not introducing highspeed services to Deal was because the existing franchise would not allow them.

Now is the time for the Department of Transport to step up to the mark and also include Deal and Sandwich in the new May highspeed timetable. The cost of this initiative is negligible and would bring confidence and assurance to potential investors at the Pfizer site.  A step towards a real "Integrated Kent Franchise"...

1 comment:

  1. The introduction of the High Speed train service has already revolutionised the working lives of many commuters who are fortunate enough to live near one of the stations where the trains stop (ie Dover, and the two Folkestones).

    Although it has improved my working day to a certain extent, I still have to change trains at Ashford or Dover and so the time advantage I have gained by using (and paying extra for) the HST is whittled away, particularly if I don’t get on the train that gives me a connection within 10 minutes or so.

    Having the line extended to Deal and Sandwich would make an amazing difference, and I’m sure would encourage more people to consider the benefits of living in the area whilst still being able to follow their careers in London.