MP steps up cam­paign to re­tain high-speed ser­vices

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Tom Py­man tpy­man@thek­m­ @TomPy­manKM

The Kent Mes­sen­ger’s cam­paign to save Maid­stone’s high speed rail ser­vices to Lon­don has been taken to the top of gov­ern­ment af­ter MP He­len Grant met with the trans­port sec­re­tary this week.

Mrs Grant held a one-to-one meet­ing with Chris Grayling in par­lia­ment on Tues­day to dis­cuss the enor­mous lo­cal con­cern over the threats to the pop­u­lar ser­vice which runs three times ev­ery morn­ing and evening from Maid­stone West to St Pan­cras.

So far some 1,500 peo­ple have signed our pe­ti­tion urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to re­tain the 52-minute ser­vice, af­ter we re­vealed plans to scrap them in favour of a slower ser­vice to Abbey Wood, which is be­ing ear­marked as a key sta­tion for the in­com­ing Cross­rail route in the new south east rail fran­chise.

It comes amid fur­ther con­cerns for the much-an­tic­i­pated Thames­link ser­vice link­ing Maid­stone East and the city, which has been pushed back un­til De­cem­ber 2019, with some grow­ing con­cerned it may never ma­te­ri­alise at all af­ter it emerged the Depart­ment for Trans­port asked po­ten­tial fran­chisees how they would re­spond if the in­tro­duc­tion of the ser­vice was “de­layed in­def­i­nitely”.

Mrs Grant, who rep­re­sents Maid­stone and the Weald, said af­ter the meet­ing: “I know that for my con­stituents who use it this ser­vice is a cru­cial part of their every­day lives, get­ting them into work quickly and con­ve­niently. Now that we have it, we sim­ply can­not do with­out it.

“I made the im­por­tance of the ser­vice clear to the sec­re­tary of state and told him of my anger that it once again feels like Maid­stone is be­ing put to the back of the queue, es­pe­cially in the wake of the re­cent de­lay to the city Thames­link ser­vice.

“Mr Grayling is now, with­out doubt, clear about the im­pact that this would have upon lo­cal peo­ple and has of­fered re­as­sur­ance the peo­ple of Maid­stone will not be worse off un­der the new fran­chise agree­ment.

“I will, of course, con­tinue to keep up the pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment as the fran­chise process pro­gresses.”

Visit KMhigh­speed to sign our pe­ti­tion

Pic­tures: Matthew Walker/Andy Pay­ton

He­len Grant MP met with Trans­port sec­re­tary Chris Grayling to dis­cuss high speed rail ser­vices

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