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Kent to get higher speed rail link

A high speed train on the London to Kent lineSoutheastern said improvements to the service would be complete by 2019

Up to 10 minutes is to be slashed from journey times between Thanet and London with the help of a £12m investment, it has been announced.

Infrastructure and operational changes will potentially reduce journeys from 71 minutes in peak times to 63 minutes.

Local MP Laura Sandys hailed the news of higher speed services “a huge win for Thanet and a real game-changer”.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLouglin said it was part of a long-term plan to secure a better future for Kent.

He added: “We are investing record amounts in our railways so that passengers get better services.”

‘Enormous importance’

The scheme has been funded by Network Rail and the Regional Growth Fund, administered by Kent County Council and provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Planned infrastructure enhancements include changes to the track, bridges, signalling and level crossings, to increase line speed from the current maximum of 70mph in some areas to at least 80mph or more.

Sample target journey times are 63 minutes from London St Pancras to Ramsgate and 49 minutes from Canterbury, Southeastern said.

MP Laura Sandys described the news as having enormous economic importance for the area, one that would open doors to more investment and more visitors.

But UKIP’s Nigel Farage claimed in a tweet on Thursday that it “would never have happened if I weren’t the candidate there!”

Ms Sandys dismissed his comment by saying: “I am amazed but not surprised that some wannabe MPs are claiming that a three year process of securing funds for this upgrade were due to them.

“Obviously, they do not know how infrastructure decisions are made and would be no good at making representation on behalf of Thanet in Parliament. Naïve and deluded!”

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