International Rail Services: Kent

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 25 October 2023.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Minister of State (Department for Transport) 6:46, 25 October 2023

I thank my right hon. Friend Damian Green for securing the debate on this important issue, which is very close to my heart; I am a constituency neighbour to my hon. Friend Sally-Ann Hart, who made an intervention, and my right hon. Friend is of course just across the border from me in Kent.

My right hon. Friend has worked tirelessly in campaigning on this matter on behalf of the people of Ashford and the wider Kent area, and I salute him for his work. As I mentioned, as the Member for a constituency that is not too far away from his, I share my right hon. Friend’s disappointment that Ebbsfleet and Ashford stations do not currently receive international services. I fully recognise the important benefits that high-speed international rail services provide for the areas and communities they serve, including for people and businesses in Kent and its surrounds. I should state that I was a frequent user of the service, having come across the coastline from East Sussex to Kent, and I would like to be able to do that again.