Pe­ti­tion call in cam­paign against train ser­vice cuts

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Spotlight On Rail - By Claire McWethy

Plans to cut train ser­vices to sta­tions be­tween Ton­bridge and Ash­ford have been branded “dis­as­trous” by one cam­paigner, who is urg­ing com­muters to sign a pe­ti­tion against the move.

It comes as the gov­ern­ment holds a con­sul­ta­tion on pos­si­ble im­prove­ments to the rail net­work, while also look­ing to find the next op­er­a­tor for the re­gion when South­east­ern’s fran­chise ex­pires in De­cem­ber 2018.

One of the goals of the Depart­ment for Trans­port is to speed up long-dis­tance jour­neys which have a high travel time rel­a­tive to the length of the route.

Among the op­tions be­ing ex­plored is re­duc­ing calls at “less well used sta­tions” to de­liver an hourly fast ser­vice be­tween Ton­bridge and Ash­ford.

The con­sul­ta­tion states: “Other ser­vices would still stop at th­ese sta­tions. Al­though we would be de­liv­er­ing faster jour­neys, we recog­nise that this has the po­ten­tial to in­con­ve­nience pas­sen­gers that cur­rently use those in­ter­me­di­ate sta­tions.”

If the pro­pos­als go ahead, it could mean less fre­quent trains stop­ping at Pluck­ley, Head­corn, Sta­ple­hurst, Mar­den and Pad- dock Wood, and com­muters fear that could even­tu­ally lead to the ser­vices be­ing can­celled al­to­gether.

So far, a pe­ti­tion against any cuts to ru­ral ser­vices has re­ceived more than 300 sig­na­tures within a week of go­ing on­line.

Martin Chambers, who started the cam­paign, said: “Sign­ing this pe­ti­tion means that you re­ject any re­duc­tion in rail ser­vices be­tween Ton­bridge and Ash­ford.

“We be­lieve this would be disas- trous for the com­mu­ni­ties, towns and vil­lages along this line and could po­ten­tially lead to the clo­sure of the sta­tions al­to­gether.”

The gov­ern­ment is ask­ing for pas­sen­gers’ views on the plans as part of a con­sul­ta­tion run­ning un­til Tues­day, May 23.

To view and re­ply to it, go to tinyurl.com/train­cons

To sign the pe­ti­tion visit tinyurl.com/train­pet

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

South­east­ern is plan­ning an hourly fast ser­vice be­tween Ash­ford and Ton­bridge

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