One wonders how much money was expended upgrading Eurostar at Ashford and Ebbfleet now to have them virtually discarded.

From: Bill Wicking, Rock Lane, Hastings

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 4:59 am
A Eurostar train.

With the news that Eurostar will not be stopping anywhere in Kent until 2023 and now the rumour of an improved service from some Sussex towns to connect with it at St Pancras my mind travels back to when my daughter went to live in Germany near Koln over 25 years ago. At that time air travel was financially out of the question and the cheapest option was train and ferry when we went to visit her.

We set off from Hastings to Dover via Ashford by train, joined the ferry to Ostend which although a longer route was in those days part of the holiday and the train to Koln was waiting at the harbour so no worry for inexperienced travellers. The return trip was just as easy and worked well for several years.

With the completion of the Channel Tunnel and the advent of Eurostar the Ostend route folded and Ashford International came to life with a great fanfare led by MPs and Councillors proclaiming the benefits to trade on both sides of the Channel, there was no thought of Brexit at this time. We had no option but to try Eurostar for the first time in spite of the expense. We joined Eurostar at Ashford very efficiently but had to change at Brussels for Koln which proved nerve wracking owing to the short time we had to find the Thalys, however, all worked well both ways. About this time a new star appeared in the sky called Ebbfleet ……more fanfares …. the arrival of this station caused the mysterious failure of Eurostar to stop at Ashford due to technical faults which turned out to be too short a platform leading to us having to go on to Ebbfleet and catch the down train to Ashford often missing the connection to Hastings.

Enter Budget airlines our saviour. Hastings to Gatwick, Gatwick to Koln or Dusseldorf, by now needed assisted passage, quick polite and efficient both ends. Alas three years ago this stopped before Covid , both Koln and Dusseldorf routes were discontinued unless we went to Stansted or Heathrow, hours of extra travelling in the wrong direction. We now hear some airlines have kept their landing and take off slots although not using them, to the detriment of other airlines this really should be looked at when further runways are demanded.

One wonders how much money was expended upgrading Ashford and Ebbfleet now to have them virtually discarded. The ambition of most travellers is a fast efficient and cheap mode of transport that benefits both business and tourism.

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