Stephen Gasche, Kent County Council
The Transmanche Metro (TMM) project is part of the wider EU funded Interreg IVB North West Europe – Regions of Connected Knowledge (RoCK) project, in which Kent County Council (KCC) has replaced the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).
Abstract for paper to be presented at 42nd European Transport Conference, Goethe University, Frankfurt
Topic Area: Issues involved in developing better and seamless cross-border services
Subject: Transmanche Metro
Proposer: Kent County Council, UK
1.1 The Transmanche Metro (TMM) project is part of the wider EU funded Interreg IVB North West Europe – Regions of Connected Knowledge (RoCK) project, in which Kent County Council (KCC) has replaced the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).
1.2 The concept of TMM is to link together the regions of Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais by providing a regular through rail service that would commence at London St Pancras and serve Ebbsfleet, Ashford, Calais Frethun, Lille Europe and Brussels Midi. Such a rail service would facilitate regular movement of passengers for business, education, employment and leisure purposes, and would offer new opportunities to a wide range of Kent business and educational institutes which would be able to develop EU connections served by a frequent international rail service.
2 Current Developments
2.1 KCC is currently working with the Nord Pas de Calais Regional Council to deliver this project. We are in negotiations with Eurostar to whom we have proposed a re-worked timetable of three stopping trains in each direction each weekday. Such a pattern of service would benefit capital to capital passengers, who would be able to travel non-stop between London and Lille frequently during the day. Other passengers would benefit from an improved connectivity between intermediate stations and the capital cities on the line. Finally, it would also provide a regular inter-regional rail service linking Kent stations with those in Nord Pas de Calais.
2.2 The Business Case for the project is currently being developed and is due to be presented to politicians and key industry stakeholders, including Eurostar, in France, Belgium and the UK during 2014. It will demonstrate the costs and benefits involved in the delivery of such an inter-regional rail service based on two different timetable options.
2.3 The important point for Kent is to ensure better international connectivity – via Ashford and Ebbsfleet - with mainland Europe. The opportunity presented by the new leisure development (Paramount) proposed at Swanscombe in North Kent should provide an incentive for Eurostar to enhance the service between Lille / Calais and Ebbsfleet, enabling day return leisure trips from the near Continent to this new facility. Indeed, this development should be a catalyst for Eurostar to engage positively with us in delivering the level of service we have proposed.
3 Ashford Spurs
3.1 An essential element of the TMM project is the conversion of the “spurs” which link HS1 with Ashford International station. This section of line has conventional UK-style 4-aspect line side signalling with standard UK domestic train protection systems (AWS and TPWS) fitted.
3.2 The 1994 fleet of Eurostar trains were equipped with UK domestic signalling to travel over the classic UK network but future international trains, such as those ordered by Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn, will not have these systems as this is not required by EU technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs). Eurostar’s new fleet that enters service in 2016 will not be able to call at Ashford unless a solution is in place.
3.3 The Ashford Spurs project - that KCC has initiated under the RoCK Project with Ashford Borough Council, Eurostar plc, HS1 Ltd and Network Rail - aims to ensure train protection is in place to allow existing and future international trains to call at Ashford International Station. Our criteria are that any solution should:
3.3.1 provide an equivalent level of protection to today’s systems
3.3.2 be future-proof and not limited to specific classes of train
3.3.3 be technically acceptable to the stakeholders and the most cost effective solution
3.3.4 be deliverable by the time the first new trains come into full service.
3.4 The sub-project aims to have the Ashford Spurs upgraded to a European complaint signalling system by 2016/17, so as to guarantee that Ashford remains an international station serving the wider population of East Kent and providing a wide range of international rail journeys into the future.
Association for European Transport