Yesterday Damian Green held a debate in the House of Commons on International Rail Services from Kent. He asked the Government to support him in getting Eurostar services back to Ashford. Eurostar services have not stopped at Ashford since before the pandemic and this has had a big effect on local businesses and people. Damian is working with Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council to get Ministers in the Department for Transport to persuade Eurostar to bring international services back to Ashford.
Rail Minister Huw Merriman responded by saying he fully recognises the benefit that high speed international rail services provide for areas and communities they serve. Despite a strong recovery in demand for travel post-covid, he is disappointed that Eurostar are yet to reinstate the services from Kent. Since becoming Rail Minister he has raised this issue personally with Eurostar, making it clear that he is keen for these services to return as soon as possible and when it is economically viable to do so. The Department for Transport is assisting the Home Office to reduce the impact of enhanced border checks as much as possible and also backs the call to see a return on the £8.5 million of taxpayer investment for the new signalling system at Ashford International to cater for Eurostar’s new rolling stock. Finally, the Rail Minister also recognised the benefits that potential future competition in international rail services could bring to Kent. Competition can bring greater choice, cheaper prices and the increased likelihood of international rail services being reinstated from Kent.
Damian is determined to bring back Eurostar services to Ashford and believes that the issues of financial viability for Eurostar and problems with border checks can be solved with determination and goodwill on all sides.
You can watch the debate here.