Today saw the start of a new High Speed service from Maidstone to St Pancras International via Strood on a trial basis.
The trial service comes as a result of changes on the North Kent line to improve punctuality of existing services.
Charles Horton, Managing Director said:
“Today marks another positive step for services in Kent with the new High Speed service from Maidstone. This will help provide passengers with an alternative way of getting directly to the heart of London, on the UKs most liked service (94% satisfaction rating in the National Passenger Survey for Southeastern High Speed).
“The changes are also allowing us to improve the reliability and punctuality of services along the North Kent and Sidcup lines into London by reducing the number of trains running through the Rochester area, which experience showed was vulnerable to congestion and delays.”
Brian Sweetland, Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways & Waste at Kent County Council said:
“Kent County Council supports this new initiative by Southeastern. The new High Speed service will provide rail passengers from Maidstone with a direct fast rail service to St Pancras. Our Rail Action Plan for Kent supports the continuation of this service in the new Kent rail franchise from 2014, from when we would hope to see it operating all day.”
The new service consists of three departures from Maidstone West in the morning at 06.56, 07.26 and 07.56.
The return journeys will depart St Pancras International at 17.14, 17.44 and 18.14. The new service calls at Strood, Gravesend, Stratford International and St Pancras International with journey times of 47 minutes.
There is also one service in the morning departing St Pancras International at 06.25 to Maidstone West. In the evening there is one service departing at 19.13 from Maidstone West to St Pancras International.
Passengers will continue to be able to travel twice an hour from Maidstone West to St Pancras International in 65 minutes changing at Strood.