In October, KCC, supported by Ashford Borough Council and Dartford Borough Council, launched a business survey to understand the impact international rail services not calling in the county is having on business and trade in Europe. The survey has had a good level of response so far, with more than 500 responses from businesses across the county and beyond. The councils thank those businesses that have already responded to the survey.
KCC’s ambition is to see the number of responses increase further to 1,000. The council is calling on more businesses to complete the survey to help it make the best case possible for a return of stopping services.
International rail services provided a unique opportunity to the county before 2020 and it is important the case is made again to ensure the investment in Kent’s international rail network is exploited to drive economic growth and new opportunities.
“In order to build the best case possible, we have an ambition to hear from many more business and trade leaders affected by the lack of international rail services.”
KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: “We are really pleased with the response we have had to our survey so far.
“In order to build the best case possible, we have an ambition to hear from many more business and trade leaders affected by the lack of international rail services.
“If you are involved in the running of a business then please take part in our survey to make sure you have your say.”
Leader of Ashford Borough Council, Cllr Noel Ovenden, said: “Rail services at Ashford International Station are not only important for existing businesses and travellers, but they are also important for our future commercial investments.
“Significant investment has been made over the last 25 years in infrastructure to ensure international services are able to operate to support business and leisure travel to Europe, so it is imperative that the benefits of this investment are realised through services returning.
“With the valuable support of local businesses and residents, we will continue our fight to bring Eurostar services back.”
Leader of Dartford Borough Council, Jeremy Kite, said: “It’s vital that international rail services return to Ebbsfleet and Ashford. We need this unique infrastructure to get back up and running in Kent and we’re grateful to all of the businesses that have responded so far.
“If you haven’t had a chance yet, please do make sure you have your say by the end of December.”
The survey will run until the end of December this year and should take about 10 minutes to complete.
Visit https://KCC.welcomesyourfeedback.net/KentBusinesses to take part in the survey.
Notes to editors
- Eurostar International Ltd operated services between London and Paris and Brussels that called at Ebbsfleet and Ashford International stations prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Eurostar International Ltd withdrew services in March 2020 and have not stopped services in Kent since, citing challenges with the recovery of passenger demand and border control constraints impacting their operational efficiency.
- There are no other international passenger service operators on the line between London and Europe at the current time, however some potential new operators are exploring operations.
- Eurostar International Ltd has stated it does not expect that services could resume serving stations in Kent until 2025 at the earliest, though that date is not committed.
- A petition on change.org set up by Ashford residents who are calling for a return of international rail services, has collected over 39,000 signatures.