In a letter to Tonbridge & Malling MP, Tom Tugendhat, Thameslink and Network Rail have advised that Thameslink trains will not start running from Maidstone East to Central London in December. No new date has been given for the introduction of these services.
This devastating news comes less than a year after the former Conservative Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, gave a written undertaking that Thameslink would be going ahead this December to Rob Bird, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Kent CC.
The Thameslink trains were planned to provide a fast service from Bearsted, Maidstone East, West Malling, Borough Green and Otford to Blackfriars and the City of London every half hour throughout the day. The service was originally promised to be operational by May 2018.
In the light of worrying rumours about Thameslink being held up, Rob Bird wrote to Mr Grayling again back in May seeking an update on the project. He has also written to Mr Grayling's successor, Grant Shapps, twice on the matter. But it is now clear that neither Minister was prepared to face up to their department's incompetence by replying to these letters.
Ian Chittenden, Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson at County Hall slammed the terrible state of affairs. "It seems that repeated promises made by the previous Transport Secretary were worthless. In the two years since a delay was first advised, the whole situation has gone backwards not forwards. It is clear that this Conservative Government cannot be trusted."
"It seems astounding that commuters and businesses alike in Maidstone have to suffer yet another delay because a 'new to the post' Tory Minister can't deliver on his predecessor's commitments", added Martin Cox, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Maidstone BC. "The Government needs to get its act together and ensure that the County Town of Kent has a rail service which is fit for purpose."
This further delay is totally unacceptable.
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