New Thameslink Rail Times ‘Positive’

Michael has responded positively to the second phase of the Thameslink timetable consultation.

The proposed timetable, effective December 2018, will double the number of Thameslink trains from two per hour to four per hour in the constituency. This will affect mainline routes from Swanley and Otford and metro routes from Swanley, Eynsford, Shoreham, Otford, Bat & Ball and Sevenoaks to London.

During off-peak periods, however, existing Thameslink services will operate between Sevenoaks and London Blackfriars only. Whilst reducing the number of London destinations may make trains more reliable, Michael wrote, the only way to ensure that passengers are not then inconvenienced is to install Oyster-style ticketing for whole journeys at all stations in Sevenoaks.

Journeys from Swanley to London Bridge, London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras International and beyond to Cambridge will be faster. A direct train service between Sevenoaks and Welwyn Garden City will also form part of the expansion of the Thameslink network.

Michael said: ‘Plans to double the number of trains per hour show that the train operators are listening. That’s why engaging in consultations is important. Now we need to make sure that these plans are delivered.’

The consultation closes on 27 July. To respond, visit transformingrail.com.

Supporting Otford Small Businesses

Mille Fleurs Otford
Mille Fleurs Otford

Michael joined members of the West Kent branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Otford today to provide support and advice to their members.  Among the shops he visited in the High Street were Mille Fleurs (bespoke hats) and the Bill Skinner Studio (bespoke jewellery).

Jane Cave has been a milliner since 1982 and set up the shop Mille Fleurs in 1997.  The shop also hosts a workshop, where bespoke hats are made on-site using traditional millinery techniques.

The Bill Skinner Studio creates collections using traditional techniques as well as state-of-the-art technology such as 3D printing.  The company employs 14 people at three different locations and exports internationally following extensive restructuring three years ago.

Bill Skinner Studio Otford
Bill Skinner Studio Otford

Michael said: “The small business rate-relief has helped many businesses.  However, I am also keen to support the cutting of red tape in any way possible.  Small businesses in small villages don’t get the same footfall as in the larger towns.  There is strong competition from the internet  so anything that we can all do to help to promote local small businesses must be worthwhile.”