International Rail Services: Kent

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 25 October 2023.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Conservative, Ashford 6:31, 25 October 2023

I am grateful for the chance to bring to the House an issue that is of huge importance not just to my constituents in Ashford, but to many people across the whole county of Kent, and indeed beyond: the withdrawal of the international services, which used to stop at Ashford and Ebbsfleet, but which were stopped when the pandemic meant the temporary end of international travel, and which have not subsequently been restored by Eurostar.

I know that my hon. Friend the Minister will be aware of the successful history of the service, which has been running from Ashford since 1996. It has contributed significantly to economic growth in the area, taking advantage of the geographical proximity to the European mainland to drive economic development, and particularly inward investment. It also, of course, provided a large new leisure market, with people from across Kent having easy access to Disneyland Paris and, at other times of the year, quick journeys to the ski slopes. There is demonstrably huge potential for the Kent stations.