Regeneration will get a real boost
THE link between the highspeed trains and the regeneration of Ashford and Folkestone was stressed by Southeastern’s service delivery director Vince Lucas.
“This is a great day and has been a long time coming,” he said on the first day.
“Ninety-three per cent of the trains have been on time and the whole service is working well.
“The regeneration of Ashford, Folkestone and east Kent will get a real boost.”
Mr Lucas said there was increasing interest in the Eureka Business Park at Ashford and house-building had continued in the area despite the recession.
He predicted that the highspeed service would put £12,000 on to Ashford house prices and more than £1 billion into the wealth of the town.
“Folkestone is less than an hour from London so more people will want to commute and businesses will want to relocate there,” he said.
“We will be working on that with Visit Kent next year.”
Mr Lucas said the cost to travellers of using the high-speed service over mainline trains was “not much more.”
From Ashford, he said, it was about 20 per cent and less than that from Folkestone.
“People should be thinking about the time saved,” he said, stressing that all Southeastern discount rail cards were valid on the high-speed service.
Mr Lucas admitted that some mainline services had been made longer because of the high-speed link.
“One of the prices we have had to pay is that some mainline trains will have to stop at all stations,” he said. “There is always a price.”
The band entertaining the commuters at the launch of the full high-speed service from Ashford International station. From left, Gerry Birch, Peter Rose and Colin Hodges
Vince Lucas, Southeastern service delivery director, says this is a great day