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Kent commuters face continued travel gloom

News

KENT COMMUTERS will continue to suffer standing journeys into London, despite the Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) latest proposals to upgrade services.

However, in the future it assures the use of faster trains will mean commuting pain will not last so long.

The SRA's Integrated Kent Franchise train service specification (IKR), published last week, warns that the long-awaited introduction of domestic commuter services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will only allow substitution rather than addition of commuter services.

And while faster services are promised on the high speed line, the SRA report suggests that passengers travelling on these routes are likely to pay a premium.

Pinch points like the Rochester Bridge Junction are part of the problem, according to Transport for London head of rail sponsorship and liaison Robert Wallace.

'There would be extra room if the junction was re-signalled or re-profiled, ' he said.

'But it is not on the SRA agenda to improve infrastructure.'

TFL expects that many of the Kent residents occupying the 115,000 new homes proposed by deputy prime minister John Prescott will commute into the capital. But without infrastructure improvements, said Wallace, there will not be enough capacity.

In Ashford, for example, the four trains an hour which service Charing Cross will be reduced to two, plus two high speed trips to St Pancras.

TFL is also worried the plan will increase crowding on London Underground as commuters are delivered to St Pancras rather than to Victoria or the City as before.

Deadline for the response to the consultation is 23 April.

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