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Rail link to Gatwick Airport put on hold over finance

Date: 19-Jun-2010

County Hall transport chiefs agreed to look into the feasibility but have concluded such a scheme would be far too costly given the state of the economy.

The tentative plan was to provide a direct link between Tonbridge and Gatwick, with the service eventually being extended to Ashford, Maidstone and Strood.

However, Geoff Mee, the director of integrated strategy and planning at Kent County Council, revealed the idea had been shelved.

He said: "It would be a really good idea if we could link Tonbridge directly to Gatwick on the basis that the M25 is a nightmare and that's what most people use to reach the airport. 

"However, a dedicated fast-train link that missed out all the intervening stations would be very expensive, more money than you would ever imagine. "With the funding we have, and are likely to get in the near future, we're not in a position to afford that.

It's still our aspiration in the long term, but not a viable proposition at the moment."

Mr Mee said it would cost "millions" to provide the new carriages and platforms required for a direct link to the airport."We've had the initial conversations, but there are several constraints," he added.

"When the economy improves we would certainly like to see if there is any way to have more through services to Gatwick if improvements to the rail network are made.

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