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Olympic Javelin strikes at Kent commuter high-speed service

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KENT RAIL commuters will be hit by longer journeys and fewer services during London's 2012 Olympics when their trains are commandeered to run the Olympic Javelin service, Games organisers admitted this week.

The Olympic Javelin will see high-speed Hitachi trains run from London St Pancras along the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) to Stratford International in the Olympic Park in just seven minutes.

The trains pressed into action will have already been running high speed across Kent since December 2009. Commuters will therefore be deprived of the service during the Games in July and August 2012.

During the Games eight out of 10 high-speed services per hour will terminate at Ebbsfleet, one stop beyond Stratford, with just two continuing to Ashford.

None of these services will continue onto the Southeastern network to destinations such as Canterbury and Ramsgate.

These routes will be served by operator Southeastern's existing rolling stock. These trains are unable to run on the CTRL and so commuters will be forced to change at either Ebbsfleet or Ashford to make their way into the capital. Details of Javelin services were confirmed this week in the draft Olympic Transport Plan (see box).

Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) transport director Hugh Sumner said: 'During the Games, anything up to 30% of commuters are on holiday so we can take those trains [from Kent] with the drop in demand.' Southeastern programme director David Miller said that his company was aiming to offer some restricted high-speed services on the Kent network.

However, he refused to comment on whether the majority of commuters would face longer journeys to work during the Games.

'It's really too early to speculate on the details of a timetable that we expect to operate in five or so years' time, ' said Miller.

'Of course we will make sure that any revised timetable for the period of the Games is communicated effectively to all.

There will be consultation with passenger groups and other stakeholders during the development stages.' Passenger group Passenger Focus was this week considering its response to the Olympic Transport Plan consultation.

A spokesman said: 'We expect any train service would have to react to demand on its routes. However, it is important to balance the needs [of visitors to the Olympics] with the needs of existing users.'

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