The government has taken action to ensure high speed rail services in Kent continue to run.
The Department for Transport has reached an agreement with Southeastern to continue providing a key high speed route between Sandwich and Deal as part of a six-month extension to the franchise.
The train operator currently runs 8 services each week day from London St Pancras International using parts of the High Speed One (HS1) network.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:
This is good news for passengers and local businesses along the route and provides certainty in the short term. Over the coming months my officials will be looking at developing plans for the new direct award franchise and I am keen to see this vital route continue.
We recognise the importance of strong transport links to communities and the benefits it delivers to economic growth locally. This is why we are investing record amounts into our rail network, improving services for passengers and getting the best deal for taxpayers.
Passenger groups had raised concerns over the continued running of the service while the department negotiated the extension to the existing franchise with Southeastern. The Rail Minister Stephen Hammond agreed that this important route should continue.
The current Southeastern franchise will end in October 2014, after which a direct award will be put in place to continue services until the new franchise starts in June 2018. This is currently being developed by the department’s franchising team.
Charles Horton, Managing Director of Southeastern, said:
Our high speed services continue to achieve some of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the country. We’re pleased to be able to continue to provide the service to Sandwich and Deal. We know our passengers value this service and the faster journey times to and from London.
The service timetable is available.