HS2

19.12.08

Minister heralds advent of new high-speed trains

Transport Minister Andrew Adonis has launched a one year countdown to the introduction of high speed passenger services by Southeastern.

Purpose-built Class 395 trains - 29 six-car units each capable of 140mph when running on High Speed 1 (HS1) - will dramatically slash journey times in and out of the capital and to and from many Kent destinations.

Their advent is one of the most significant milestones in the history of Britain’s railways, and it is expected they will play a key role in regenerating the south-east region and development of the Thames Gateway.

Andrew Adonis discovered for himself the smooth power of the new trains when he travelled from Ashford International to London St Pancras International aboard a Class 395 to herald an early Christmas present for many rail passengers one year hence.

Travelling entirely on HS1 via Ebbsfleet and Stratford, the train more than halved the average Ashford-London journey time - currently 83 minutes - to just 37 minutes.

From December 13 next year, when the trains become fully operational, they will be capable of running on other tracks at existing line speeds, yet still bring valuable savings in journey times for travellers who choose to use them.

Folkestone, for instance, an average 98 minutes away from London by train, will see that time cut to 63 minutes. Canterbury, currently 102 minutes distant, will have access to the capital in just over the hour. Ramsgate, almost a two-hour journey away today, will be reachable in 84 minutes, and Gravesend to London will take just 24 minutes instead of 42.

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. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this most exciting adventure, yet remain determined to provide passengers on all our trains with a level of service that is consistently high.

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.

”The Government is also helping to fund a new station at Stratford which will open up a new range of destinations to people using the service, such as the Olympic site from 2012.”

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