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Letter to the Kent Messenger regarding Thameslink

August 22, 2019 2:56 PM
Originally published by Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Today the KM published an abridged version of Rob Bird's letter regarding the refusal of Conservative Ministers and MPs to come clean about the future of Maidstone's Thameslink Service. Here is the letter in full.

Time for Transport Minister to come clean about Maidstone's Thameslink service

The Thameslink service is expected to provide Bearsted, Maidstone East and West Letter to KM 220819 (Kent Messenger)Malling with trains to Central London and Cambridge every ½ hour throughout the day. Crucially, Maidstone passengers were told they would get to Central London in less than an hour. Last October Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport wrote to me confirming that this long overdue service would be running from Maidstone by December 2019.

However, since October there have been persistent rumours that Thameslink will be delayed once more. These rumours have been further fuelled by the failure of Conservative ministers and MPs to give any positive information about the Thameslink service. A further delay would be another massive disappointment to Maidstone's hard-pressed commuters who find the current services from Central Maidstone hopelessly inadequate.

I wrote to Chris Grayling again on 28th May asking for clarification about the future of Maidstone's Thameslink service. Mr Grayling did not reply. I then wrote to Grant Shapps when he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport on 25th July. Almost 4 weeks have passed but I still have not had a reply.

Last week rail users were told to expect a further 2.8% increase in fares next year. Kent Online reported comments from the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat, on the introduction of the Maidstone Thameslink services. He stated 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."

Clearly, Mr Tugendhat knows what's going on. It is most likely that other Conservative MPs for our area know also what's going on and Government ministers must definitely know what's going on. It is therefore totally unacceptable that the Government refuses to come clean with Maidstone's rail users.

We have had countless promises of new initiatives from Conservative ministers in recent weeks. As we have seen with Thameslink, a promise counts for nothing unless it is delivered on time. Kent's rail users deserve better than this.

Rob Bird

KCC Member for Maidstone Central

Click here to sign the Lib Dem petition calling on the Government to deliver Thameslink by December.