UK: Anger at High-Speed Trains that Take Longer to Arrive

Furious Bay commuters blasted Kent's high-speed train line as the BBC cameras rolled into town.

The Inside Out programme visited Herne Bay to film a special feature on the HS1 service, which has come under fire since it was introduced in December 2009.

Rail users in the town claim the high-speed line has boosted their ticket prices and actually extended journey times.

John Nicholson, who catches the old service to Cannon Street at 6.41am, let the cameras into his home in School Lane, Herne.

He told the programme: "I have to pay £4,000 for the privilege of a journey that takes 20 minutes longer than it used to.

"Because of that extra journey time I'm just sitting on the train thinking what I could be doing with my family. It hurts. We're really not happy about it."

Since the high-speed line was introduced, classic trains have been forced to stop at more stations on the North Kent line - extending journey times for main line users.

Cllr Peter Lee, who also commutes to London, says HS1 has done one thing to the old service.

He said: "It's spoiled it, so we feel hard done by.

"The main problem is when the high-speed service was introduced some of the stopping services from Victoria to Faversham were withdrawn, and that has meant the mainline trains are making more stops and their journey times are extended."

Bay MP Roger Gale is also not a fan of the new high-speed line.

He said: "The classic services that run into central London are slower as a result of HS1, because they've cleared a path for the high-speed trains.

"Where's the benefit in that?"

Kent County Council, which has given its backing to HS1, has suggested speeding up one train an hour by making it miss smaller stations.

But Southeastern - which refused Inside Out permission to film Mr Nicholson on his way to work - says demand has made train times slower.

The company's service director Vince Lucas said: "It's a bit like the M25. When it's really busy it goes to the variable speeds and drops the speeds down to get more cars through.

"Trains are just the same and what you're seeing is the result of more people than ever wanting to use the UK's railways."

* What do you think? Write to the Herne Bay Gazette at Gazette House, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, CT5 3SE or email hernebaygazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

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