Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Southeastern proposal for all day HS services for DEAL

On the 17th December 2013 Trains4Deal reported that the latest Sountheastern stakeholder newsletter proposed that the December 2014 timetable (extended to start January 2015) should include an off peak all day and weekend high-speed (HS) service for DEAL, Sandwich, Walmer and Martin Mill.

Fantastic News *air punch*! Unfortunately my own personal jubilation was short lived when I read the full proposal the following day:

"We have received much demand from passengers, Kent County Council, Trains 4 Deal and Dover District Council for a continuation of the HS service from Deal and Sandwich, and if possible extending this to an all day service.

We are therefore proposing an all-day circular service connecting Ramsgate and Dover Priory. This will mean the HS services will begin to additionally serve Martin Mill and Walmer for the first time.

This service will replace the existing lightly-used off-peak mainline service."

My experience of using mainline services from DEAL have never given me the impression they are 'lightly-used', a considerable amount of people including school children rely on the existing mainline service. The London Bridge rebuild has also been shoe horned in as an excuse to stop mainline services. However I suspect the real reason is that Southeastern are not confident that the Kent Coast Line and its signalling which has had very little investment from Network Rail for years is up to the task of running an increased number of trains per hour.

I have long supported the idea of a HS loop service but had always assumed it would use the more logical Canterbury West, Sandwich, DEAL, Dover route.

But after a lot of mulling over, I have come to the conclusion this is a proposal that does benefit DEAL and can work in our advantage. Feedback on this draft proposal is required by 7th February 2014 and I would urge you to do so, whatever your opinion or alternative ideas are. The full proposal and contact details are here.

I am going to finish this post with my own pros and cons:


All day and weekend HS services for DEAL.
DEAL would be served entirely by a modern 395 class HS rolling stock.
Off peak passengers via Faversham would pay standard class only.
DEAL would have better access to job opportunities in North Kent/Thames Gateway.


Passengers would need to change at Ashford (for Charing Cross) or Rochester (for Victoria).
An HS loop via Canterbury would be more desirable.
Stopping at Walmer and Martin Mill will increase journey times.
Overall DEAL would have 10 fewer trains per day.