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Maidstone’s faster rail link delayed again

November 24, 2017 6:44 PM

Statement by Liberal Democrat County Councillors Rob Bird, Ian Chittenden & Dan Daley

The many Maidstone commuters who travel to London each day are incensed by the news that the new Thameslink service has once more been delayed, for a further year until December 2019.

While other counties continue to benefit from new railways investment and are given priority, West Kent has once again shunted into a siding.

It was more than eight years ago that Maidstone lost its fast track rush hour service to Cannon Street. After five years of discussion with Government Ministers and the regulatory authorities, it was agreed that our County Town would benefit from the £7.5 billion Thameslink Project. Maidstone would again have a fast link to the centre of London.

The original start date of May 2018 projected three years ago was delayed to December 2018. Now we are told that, despite eight years of planning and major engineering works, the experts are still unsure whether the new system will be capable of handling the increase in traffic by December 2019.

The report from the National Audit Office and the spin put out by the Department for Transport do not explain why local bodies were being advised that the work was on programme, even up to the last few weeks. Nor do they explain why the experts have been so wrong.

What guarantee do the people of Maidstone have that the fast track Thameslink service will be in operation in December 2019? It is time for the waiting to stop.