Monday, 4 January 2016

Monday Morning Commute (4th January 2016)

Ironically it was this time last year that DEAL was looking forward to the introduction of a full high-speed rail timetable. The economic benefit has been tremendous with between 5-10% of the working population now commuting to London and a large increase of visitors to the town. So the devastating closure of the rail line between Dover and Folkestone will cause real economic damage to DEAL as well as the wider East Kent area.

I think Charlie Elphicke's assessment covers a lot of the questions people are asking so it’s worth a read: Working hard to get our railway back on track

For the past few days I have been in contact with other commuters through social media who have similarly struggled with the information from Southeastern on alternative routes. I knew I could park at Folkestone West for free but it is a long drive from DEAL and the direct high-speed service starting from Folkestone Central has been reduced, so Ramsgate seemed the best option.

I got to DEAL station an hour earlier than usual (6.30am) and it looked like there was a rail replacement bus in the car park but as there was no staff around to give information I headed to platform 2 where there was already a sizeable amount of commuters.

The Dover to Ramsgate 'shuttle service' arrived promptly at 6.34am but only had four carriages. This service has a really good connection arriving at Ramsgate at 6.53am with a high-speed service departing at 6.58am. Many of the regular DEAL and Dover commuters opted for this route and the staff at Ramsgate seemed surprised at the volume of people. Staggeringly this seems to be the only peak morning or evening service with a connection time wait of less than 15 minutes.

During my journey on the high-speed service from Ramsgate to St Pancras I couldn't help but think how lucky commuters on this line are to have twelve carriages rather six and do not have to stop at Ebbsfleet.

Apparently the peak evening high-speed service I would normally get will have an express bus connection service from Folkestone to DEAL so I might try that tonight.

If any good comes from the potential months of disruption, I hope that it's a more resilient and connected rail network for East Kent for people that need to get to work, school children to get to school and visitors to boost our economy.


  1. If I take the ramsgate route starting from Deal how much longer will the commute take to Kings X? Does anyone know if the Folkestone West car park is over capacity as a result of changes?

  2. It's about 20 mins extra if you are lucky to get a good connection at Ramsgate, but sadly most are about 15 mins plus wait. Folkestone West car park doesn't seem to have been taken up, so still plenty of spaces and free for affected stations.