Business and trade leaders are being asked for their views on how international rail services to Europe, which are not currently stopping in Kent, have affected firms.
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.
Kent County Council (KCC), supported by Ashford Borough Council and Dartford Borough Council, is running a business survey to understand the impact international rail services not calling in the county is having on business and trade in Europe.
The councils have focused on the impact of Eurostar’s decision to remove services since 2020 and have been working with rail industry leaders to address this.
The survey will run until the end of December this year and should take about 10 minutes to complete.
Anyone who is responsible for the day to day running of a business is able to take part and it is not limited to businesses in Kent – businesses that have been affected from across the south east region are encouraged to take part. This is an opportunity for businesses to have their say and contribute to work aimed at having international services return to the county.
KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: “For the Kent economy to continue to thrive it is important we are in the best position possible to promote the case for international rail services to resume in the county.
“To do that, we need to understand the impact the sustained loss of international rail services in Kent has had on businesses.
“We have therefore launched a business survey to provide businesses of all shapes and sizes an opportunity to tell us if the loss of international rail services from Kent has impacted their businesses or threatens their future trade and investment plans.”
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive, Jo James OBE, said: “Businesses need all the advantages they can get to drive economic growth. Without easy access to international rail services from Kent, business, trade and investment with our neighbouring international markets is more costly and time-consuming.
“I urge all businesses concerned about the current lack of international rail services in Kent to take this opportunity and give 10 minutes of their time to respond to the survey. It is vital we support the campaign by the councils to make the case for a return of international rail services.”
Leader of Ashford Borough Council, Cllr Noel Ovenden, said: “The services at Ashford International Station are not only important for existing businesses and travellers, they are also important for our future commercial investments. The prospect that Eurostar are not likely to return anytime soon represents a real challenge for those businesses that rely on the service, and those that work locally. Ashford is an important economic driver for not only Kent and the east Kent region, but also an important international access point to Europe.
“Significant investment has been made over the last 25 years in infrastructure at Ashford International Station 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 being returned to support the economy of Kent and the UK. With the valuable support of local businesses and residents, we will continue our fight and call on the government to intervene in order to maintain the prosperity of the borough and indeed the wider east Kent region.”
Leader of Dartford Borough Council, Cllr Jeremy Kite, said: “The failure to deliver a meaningful international service when we have a huge amount of public investment in station infrastructure at Ebbsfleet is a huge, missed opportunity.
“In my opinion the operators must be persuaded to reopen services or to relinquish their rights to allow another operator to do so.”
Visit https://KCC.welcomesyourfeedback.net/KentBusinesses to take part in the survey.