High Speed journeys to Kent
How does the idea of taking 40 minutes off your morning commute sound? And your evening commute too? For someone working Monday to Friday, that’s six hours and 40 minutes given back to you each week. Over the course of a year, it adds up to over twelve days. In one corner of Britain, rail passengers have been enjoying these kinds of time savings for nearly a decade.
Everyone knows about the Eurostar services from London to the Channel Tunnel, but what many people don't realise is that as well as using high‐speed trains to get to Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam, millions of journeys have also now been made using high‐speed trains on the same line to get to Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone, and further beyond.
In 2009, Southeastern began its services with a brand new fleet of high‐speed trains, designed to travel at 140mph on the line also used by Eurostar, but also able to run onto the existing network, serving towns across Kent. Original expectations for passenger numbers were quite modest, but Southeastern found significant untapped demand for their high‐speed services. By speaking to people across the county about the services they wanted, they developed a much more ambitious timetable, which has delivered a 12% year‐on‐year growth in passenger numbers.
To give it the best possible launch the new timetable was introduced step by step from June 2009, gradually increasing the number of services until December 2009, ironing out any teething issues and helping passengers get to know the new system. For someone taking the train from London to Dover, the high‐speed train saved 48 minutes. To Canterbury, it was a saving of 49 minutes, and to Ashford, 43 minutes.
This has transformed the experience for rail travellers across Kent and London, with shorter journey times and fast, modern trains. It’s scored regularly above 90% in customer satisfaction surveys. The high speed rail line has transformed Kent too, with an estimated £3.8 billion of economic and social benefits to the county, and over £300 million brought in by visitors to Kent’s tourist economy.
Southeastern’s high‐speed services are a great example of what train companies are striving to do across the country, to increase the number of services and the number of seats to meet the high demand for rail travel. That’s why, across the country, we will be running 6,400 additional services by 2021, with 7,000 new carriages delivered over the same period.