Southeastern to extend high-speed rail services

Southeastern has submitted plans to the Department for Transport (DfT) to create a new ‘coastal loop’ high-speed rail route.

The operator hopes to run additional services on a circular route between Faversham, Ramsgate and Dover Priory which will see high-speed trains stopping at Walmer, Martin Mill and Birchington-on-sea for the first time.

Southeastern has said it will add almost 700 seats from Ashford International during the morning peak and 349 seats from Ebbsfleet International.

New direct services between Maidstone East and Canterbury West will be added as well as additional services from Margate and Broadstairs, and one extra service from Margate and Canterbury West at the start of the off peak.

The plans will also see fewer trains being split in half at Ashford and Faversham, instead having full 12-car trains operating on the loop.

Southeastern said: “The plans are in response to significant growth in passenger numbers on high speed from Dover, Canterbury, Ashford and Ebbsfleet.

“We’re carrying 60 to 70 per cent more passengers to and from all of those stations now compared to the year before high speed was introduced. We’ve also seen an increase of 25 per cent in the number of passengers visiting Kent from London and further afield.”

A decision is expected within the next couple of weeks and the new services could be in place by December.