Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says the delayed Thameslink fast service from Maidstone East “remains on track” in a letter to Michael today.
The fresh assurances follow the pair’s meeting last week, in which Michael demanded the Transport Secretary’s commitment to delivering the new Thameslink fast service in full after fresh fears that the future express service would be delayed “indefinitely”.
Click here to read Grayling’s letter to Sir Michael
Reacting to the letter, Michael said: “Last week, the Transport Secretary tried to reassure me that the new service will be delivered. Now, its deliverability merely remains ‘on track’. Kent commuters, businesses and families need more certainty.”
Michael has demanded the Transport Secretary’s assurance that the new Thameslink fast service will be delivered in full, following fresh fears that the future express service would be delayed “indefinitely”.
The new link – to run from Maidstone East through Swanley and Otford to the City – was set to begin at the end of this year. But the start date was postponed until at least December 2019.
Worse still, the Sevenoaks MP discovered that the tendering documents for the new South East franchise operator asked for a cost analysis of the “indefinite” delay of the service.
He warned that this spelled bad news for families and businesses in his constituency and requested an immediate meeting with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, which was granted.
Following the meeting, Michael said: “The Transport Secretary has committed to investigating why this paragraph was included in the Invitation to Tender. He has also undertaken to provide further reassurance that the fast service will commence in December 2019 and will not be further postponed.”
Michael has today (12) organised a letter to the new Rail Minister signalling concerns about the postponed new Thameslink fast service, which has been signed by four other Kent MPs also affected by the delays.
Following his representations to Govia Thameslink Railway about his alternative phased proposals earlier in the week, the Sevenoaks MP took the opportunity to put the issue on the new Rail Minister’s radar. It is the first time the local MP has took charge of a county-wide campaign since returning to the backbenches in November last year.
The letter reads: “Many families and businesses have made long-term plans on the basis of this service starting in 2018. Our constituents are therefore concerned that the services could be postponed further still, beyond 2019.
We are extremely disappointed at this situation, which has been taken without consultation, and would appreciate your time to discuss alternative phased proposals as soon as possible.
It is vital that the new plans avoid punishing businesses and commuters in our constituencies who have anticipated and planned for the introduction of this new service now for over four years.”
Click here to read the letter in full: Page 1 Page 2