Eurostar service from London to Amsterdam will NOT stop in Kent...for now
PUBLISHED: 11:04 19 June 2017
KCC chiefs say they will make the case next year for the route to serve Ashford International
Eurostar’s much-anticipated direct service from London to Amsterdam is not set to stop at Kent stations - for the time being at least - council chiefs confirm.
The cross-Channel operator announced last month it was in the final stages of planning for the service to the Netherlands, with a plan to operate trains on the route by the end of the year.
Kent County Council chiefs said they didn’t expect the service to launch until Easter and confirmed Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International were not on the current route plan, as they are on some services to the continent.
However, KCC’s principal transport planner for rail, Stephen Gasche, said chiefs would push for expansion of the service to Ashford in the future.
Signalling at the Kent station needs to be upgraded to allow Eurostar’s newest trains to pass through, and Mr Gasche insisted that project, known as Ashford Spurs, was “on time and on budget”, and due to be completed in the spring.
He added: “[The Amsterdam service] was always, from the beginning, going to be a service that would be non-stop from London to Brussels - it’s not even stopping at Lille, we knew there wasn’t going to be a Kent stop.
“From Easter 2018, there will be two trains a day: London-Brussels-Rotterdam-Amsterdam.
“There are complex border and immigration issues for the return journeys which Eurostar is seeking to resolve with the authorities.
“Beyond that I know they have an aspiration to expand the service and it’s at that point, when Ashford Spurs is delivered, or just before then, that we will make the case so that when and if there’s a third return journey each day, it’s that train that serves Ashford and possibly Antwerp.
“That’s our aim and it’s a win-win because we get an extra service from Ashford to Brussels.”
Mr Gasche’s comments came in response to a question on the progress of the Ashford Spurs project at a transport cabinet committee meeting by Green councillor Martin Whybrow.
Cllr Whybrow added: “The last thing we want in Kent is to see Ashford left without a Eurostar service.”