Just 37 minutes later and you’re in London
THE one-year countdown to the introduction of high-speed passenger services to and from London has been launched by Transport Minister Andrew Adonis.
Purpose-built Class 395 trains - 29 six-car units each capable of 140mph when running on High Speed 1 (HS1) - will slash journey times in and out of the capital and to and from many Kent destinations.
The minister tested out the new trains when he travelled from Ashford International to London St Pancras International aboard a Class 395 last Friday.
The so-called bullet train travelled entirely on HS1 via Ebbsfleet and Stratford on a journey that more than halved the average AshfordLondon journey time - currently 83 minutes - to just 37 minutes.
The new trains are due to be introduced on December 13 next year.
The journey time from Folkestone to London, currently an average 98 minutes, will be cut to 63 minutes.
Charles Horton, Southeastern’s managing director, said: “This is a huge step forward and gives thousands of our passengers a whole new range of choices about where they live, how they travel to work and how they link up with rail connections to other parts of the country and the Continent.”
Andrew Adonis said: “When these trains enter service next year they will transform the journeys of large numbers of rail passengers travelling between Kent and London - in some cases halving journey times.”
Representatives from Ashford’s Future also took part in the launch at Ashford Interna- tional station.
Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, said: “We believe that the arrival of domestic high-speed rail services will have a very positive impact on the town. The new 37 minute fast link to London will strengthen Ashford’s attractiveness as a place to live and do business.”
Vince Lucas, commercial director, Southeastern; Judith Armitt, managing director, Ashford’s Future and David Hill, chief executive, Ashford Borough Council at the bullet train launch at Ashford International station