Could controversial plans in south eastern rail franchise cause small stations in Kent to CLOSE?
PUBLISHED: 09:07 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:07 19 April 2017
Campaigners have launched a petition against proposals in which some services between Tonbridge and Ashford would no longer stop at intermediate stations
Campaigners are warning small stations in Kent could close in future as a second petition has been launched against proposals in the government’s consultation on the future of the south eastern rail franchise.
More than 20,000 people have already signed a pledge urging the Department for Transport not to go ahead with plans to make services from Dartford terminate at London Cannon Street only, rather than several different termini in the capital.
In its response - as is required when such a document gains 10,000 signatures - the DfT confirmed it is “not proposing to cut specific services” as it asked whether passengers would support the principle of reducing the choice of London termini served from individual stations to provide a more regular timetable and reliable service.
Now a separate petition is gathering steam in the west of the county, as passengers contest proposed changes to services between Tonbridge and Ashford.
Under the plans, some trains on that line would no longer stop at stations like Pluckley, Headcorn, Staplehurst, Marden, and Paddock Wood, in a bid to speed up journey times.
A spokesperson for the Save Kent Trains campaign said: “We believe this would be disastrous for the communities, towns and villages along this line and could potentially lead to the closure of the stations altogether.”
The DfT has given no indication such drastic action is on the cards, however.
In its consultation, it said: “We are also exploring various options for reducing the journey time on the existing Mainline route between Hastings and Charing Cross via Tonbridge.
“For instance, reducing calls at less well used stations could deliver an hourly fast service.
“Other services would still stop at these stations.
“This approach could also be adopted on other routes, such as Tonbridge to Ashford.
“Although we would be delivering faster journeys, we recognise that this has the potential to inconvenience passengers that currently use those intermediate stations.”
The petition so far has 300 signatures and is available to view here.