Today saw the successful start of high speed services from Sandwich and Deal. Local VIPs including Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet and Paul Carter leader of Kent County Council were there to see the first train from Sandwich station depart at 05.50 and arrive at St Pancras International.
The new services from Deal and Sandwich are being funded by Kent County Council to boost business confidence and support new employment opportunities in East Kent at the same time as Pfizer withdraws from the area. They follow the successful use of high speed services during the recent Open Golf Championship at Sandwich, when 37,000 spectators travelled by train.
There are three services in the morning departing Sandwich at 05:50, 06:18 and 06:50, calling at Deal six minutes later.
In the evening there will be two services to Deal and Sandwich leaving St Pancras International at 17:40 and 18:40.
The new services will operate Monday to Friday and will take approximately 90 minutes. Existing Mainline services to Deal and Sandwich take approximately 135 minutes.
- Download timetable details for the new high speed services
- See all Southeastern timetables
Vince Lucas, service delivery director said, “These new services will be a real benefit for the local economy and encourage people and business to look at the opportunities in East Kent. We have worked closely with Kent County Council, Department for Transport and Network Rail and Kent MPs to get these services introduced as quickly as possible. It is testament to everyone’s commitment to the area that we have managed to introduce these earlier than planned.”
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council and Chairman of the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force, said, “The new high speed rail services will help to act as a catalyst for employment opportunities and international investment in East Kent as Pfizer withdraws from the area and we promote the site's world-class facilities.
“The launch of these services was a specific recommendation of the first report to Ministers by the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force. We knew it was vital to put East Kent on the high speed map because the big question asked by potential investors in the Pfizer site is, ‘What’s the connectivity like?’ By slashing the journey time to London, the site is now as close to the capital as Cambridge.
"Last month the government announced that the Sandwich site has been granted Enterprise Zone status to encourage new business to start-up and new inward investment. Enterprise Zones bring various tax breaks, particularly commercial rate relaxation, and flexibility in planning regulations."
Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal said, “This marks the fulfilment of a key pledge to Deal. The service is vital to boosting the local economy. I am delighted that Southeastern has agreed to provide this service and KCC has been able to fund it. We need more jobs and money in Deal and the fast train stopping at Deal is a key part of that.”
Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet said, “The new high speed service is a victory for the residents of Sandwich, Deal and the Stour Villages. The new service will slice off an incredible 45 minutes from the average journey time into the capital which will open up a whole host of new opportunities for East Kent. Businesses considering setting up in the region – particularly on the Pfizer site – will realise that East Kent is not only a superb place for their employees to live, it is accessible and within easy commuting distance from London. We are no longer left at the end of the line!”