KCC have announced their ambitions to further extend Anglo-French relations and improve business opportunities throughout the county. Kent County Council have stated that Kent businesses and tourism would benefit exponentially if more high-speed trains were run between London, Ashford and Calais. At the present time, only one early morning Eurostar service stops at Ashford en route to Lille or Brussels, a figure which KCC seek to improve.
KCC enthuse that additional rail services would improve business and transform Ashford into a lucrative shopping destination. However, officials at Eurostar stressed that, according to their research, passengers prefer fewer stops whilst travelling. Moreover, Eurostar warned that if they introduced more stops they would also have to introduce additional costs, due to the need to hire more staff to handle the higher frequency of trains stopping at the station.
Currently, KCC is working in conjunction with the French regional government of Nord Pas de Calais on prospective plans for a “Transmanche Metro” to connect Kent with the region. The principal transport planner for KCC, Stephen Gasche, has expressed the council’s intentions to create a basic service which would operate three times a day. It would serve Ebbsfleet as well as Ashford and Kent, before crossing to the continent and calling at Calais, Lille and Brussels.
Mr Gasche is hopeful the propositions will be finalised and presented to Eurostar and HS1, as well as other politicians and stake holders in local and central government in the UK and in Lille this year.
In response to KCC and Mr Gasche’s plans, Eurostar have publicly stated they remain committed to Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais International Stations. They expressed how their timetables have been meticulously designed to satisfy the demands of any type of traveller, whether they are commuting businessmen or leisure travellers.