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.

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