Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Thanet fast-tracked over Dover District

On the 31st October 2011 the Government announced that East Kent (*Dover District, Thanet, Shepway and Canterbury) had been awarded a £40million Regional Growth Fund to drive new jobs and business growth in the wake of the Pfizer closure.

* You can now sign an e-petiton to change the name of Dover District.

The Task Force set up to mitigate Pfizer’s proposed exit from Sandwich met for the last time on 6th March 2012 and presented their last report.

The report states that the Regional Growth Fund has subsequently had £5million removed from it and now stands at £35million. The removed sum of £5million has been matched with a further £5million from Network Rail and will secure line speed enhancements from Ashford International to Ramsgate via Canterbury West to bring journey times to Thanet down to 60mins. This comes on top of the recent new signalling technology which has also been installed along this railway line.

This is good news for Thanet and will lay the foundations for a possible new Manston Parkway station.

However this will do nothing to improve transport links to Discovery Park (the Enterprise Zone which now encapsulates the Pfizer site). The Kent coast(Ashford) line between Folkestone and Ramsgate via Deal/Sandwich also requires urgent upgrading. This line still has semaphore signalling and line speed restrictions (the painfully slow speed restrictions between Folkestone and Dover Priory are legendary).

If we want East Kent Plc to become a reality then the Kent Coast line will also require upgrading and this needs to be done sooner rather than later. I am surprised this was not given priority considering improving rail services to Sandwich was identified as having a significant impact on the potential for Discovery Park in the 30 day report.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Platform 1 - new café for Deal station

Deal Station's new café "Platform 1" will open for business tomorrow 19th March 2012 from 05.30am.

Passenger numbers using the new Southeastern highspeed service connecting Deal to London St Pancras have significantly increased over recent months and this will be welcome news for early morning commuters and off peak passengers.
Deal station is now an excellent choice for commuters with the possibility of more HS1 services on the way, easy parking, plenty of empty seats when you board a train and a brand new café.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

December 2012 timetable earmarked for more highspeed services to Deal & Sandwich

This morning at London St Pancras senior Southeastern managers were available to talk to their customers, they call it 'Meet the Manager'. I took the opportunity to talk to them about the new highspeed train service for Deal and Sandwich.

Firstly I wanted to know if they agreed with me that the service had been a success?

They agreed it had already exceeded their expectations. Furthermore they agreed there was evidence to suggest there is significant potential for increasing passenger numbers from tourism to Deal and Sandwich via highspeed services. A remarkable turnaround from a year ago when the idea of stopping highspeed trains at Deal was dismissed by Southeastern.

Obviously this lead me to ask will you increase highspeed services for Deal and Sandwich?

The offical stance is that there will be an internal review of all highspeed services after the Olympics and if possible they will increase the number of highspeed services to Deal and Sandwich in the December 2012 timetable. Again another big change of attitude but remember the new 2014 Integrated Kent Franchise is approaching fast and all day services to Deal and Sandwich is a key priority.