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Government accused of insulting Maidstone rail users

Wednesday 11th September 2019

THE Government’s continued silence over the stalled introduction of fast rail services to Maidstone has been described as an insult by senior politicians at county hall.

In spite of requests for confirmation from the Department of Transport as to whether Thameslink trains will be running from December, ministers have refused to comment.

The latest update has been in the form of a statement from West Malling’s Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat who said it now appeared “highly unlikely the service will be delivered as planned” and that it had become clear that: “Thameslink cannot deliver the rail service they promised.”

The promised Thameslink services would provide half-hourly trains into Central London for commuters from Bearsted, Maidstone East and West Malling who currently struggle with the present service; many of which drive out of the area to catch faster trains into Town.

Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall, said: “Further delays to the introduction of this long-overdue service would be totally unacceptable.

“Local rail users, residents and businesses are fed up with the continued uncertainty.”

Rob has written to both the former transport minister Chris Grayling and at the end of July to his successor, Grant Shapps, asking for confirmation. Neither have replied.

Ian Chittenden, the Lib Dem transport spokesperson at County Hall, added: “This continued silence is deeply suspicious. It is totally unfair on residents and businesses whose future plans have been based on promises by the Conservative Government. Any further delay to Thameslink is totally unacceptable. And the refusal to provide any information is frankly insulting.”