Canterbury council claims fast rail 'slows down trains'

Javelin high speed train
Image caption Domestic high-speed commuter services between London and Kent began in December 2009

The impact of high speed rail is being investigated after concerns that some mainline services are taking longer to reach some Kent destinations.

Canterbury City Council will carry out a review, more than 18 months after the fast trains were introduced.

It will look at how high speed services have affected mainline services in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay.

Rail operator Southeastern said speeding up trains would involve missing some stations along the routes.

'Passenger choice'

A full statement from Southeastern said: "We appreciate that no-one wants to see journey times increase but to speed up trains would require missing stations out along the route, which would not be popular with those towns.

"From Canterbury we are encouraged that more people than ever are travelling by train, with an increase of over 30% since the introduction of high speed.

"Passengers now have a choice of service and can choose to take a far quicker journey on high speed or use the mainline services."

A report submitted to the council' scrutiny committee said: "The high speed service serves Whitstable and Herne Bay in peak hours, but the gain in time is not great."

It added: "The other mainline or 'classic' services, principally serving stations to London Cannon Street and London Victoria, still provide two trains per hour to London during peak times, although the total journey time is up to 20 minutes longer since the introduction of high speed services."

The local authority said Canterbury council's leader had written to the government and Kent County Council had also lobbied train companies.

Domestic high-speed commuter services between Kent and London St Pancras railway station, known as "High Speed 1", began on 13 December 2009 as part of services operated by Southeastern trains on a franchise that runs until 2014, the report said.

It added: "However, Southeastern have indicated that there is little prospect of any substantial change to the overall situation on the north Kent line before the franchise is renegotiated in 2014."

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