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The Government’s continued silence on future of Thameslink services from Maidstone is an insult to rail users and residents

September 10, 2019 5:23 PM
Originally published by Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Despite repeated requests, the Department for Transport continues to refuse to confirm that Thameslink services will be running from Bearsted, Maidstone and West Malling to Central London by the end of December.

"Further delays to the introduction of this long-overdue service would be totally unacceptable", says Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall. "Local rail users, residents and businesses are fed up with the continued uncertainty." Ian and Rob at Maidstone East

The new Thameslink service is due to provide fast, half hourly trains into Central London and onwards to Cambridge throughout the day. This would be a vast improvement on the existing service from Maidstone East and an attractive alternative for commuters who currently prefer to drive out of Central Maidstone to pick up other rail services.

The former Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, wrote to Rob Bird last October assuring him that Maidstone's Thameslink service would be operational from December this year. Since then there have been countless rumours that the service would be further delayed. Then last month the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat, was quoted as saying that it is now "highly unlikely this service will be delivered as planned" and that "it has become clear Thameslink cannot deliver the rail services they promised."

Rob Bird wrote to Chris Grayling again in May and to his successor, Grant Shapps, on 26th July. Neither have replied. On Monday Rob wrote to Mr Shapps yet again.

Ian Chittenden, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson at County Hall concluded, "This continued silence is deeply suspicious. It is totally unfair on residents and businesses whose future plans have been based on promises by the Conservative Government. Any further delay to Thameslink is totally unacceptable. And the refusal to provide any information is frankly insulting."

Click here to sign the Liberal Democrat petition calling on the Government to deliver Thameslink services this December.