An update from our local MP on issues which affect Hollingbourne – fewer trains and lorry parking on the M20 after Brexit.

Our local MP, Mrs Helen Whately sends out a regular newsletter and in her current edition out today two items specifically relate to Hollingbourne and these are the loss of an early morning train service to London and the use of the M20 between Junctions 8 and 9 for storing 3000 trucks that may have to queue to pass through Customs at Dover after Brexit if there is no frictionless Customs arrangement like the present Customs Union.

The item relating to local train services is as follows:-

Rough ride for commuters

Commuters face a tough ride on too many services: delays, long journey times, and out-of-date carriages. That’s why I was dismayed when I saw the new timetables. The proposed new timetable would see the loss of a service arriving in London before 9am along the Maidstone East line serving Lenham, Harrietsham, Hollingbourne and Bearsted. If the changes go ahead, one of the peak time services from Faversham to London Victoria will also be lengthened by 12 minutes, which adds up to an extra hour on the train in the mornings over the course of a week.

This simply isn’t good enough, so I organised for a group of Kent MPs with the Rail Minister and Southeastern to press our concerns. He left in no doubt that these changes will add considerable time to some journey. I’ve also written in no uncertain terms to Southeastern and the Rail Minister asking for answers and to keep these vital services as they are.

More information about the Hollingbourne train timetable from 20th May is at http://www.hollingbournepc.kentparishes.gov.uk/south-eastern-trains-launches-new-hollingbourne-timetable-on-20th-may/

The item relating to using the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford for storing lorries awaiting Customs at Dover and the Channel Tunnel after Brexit is as follows:-

Kent’s roads must be ready for Brexit

With 5,000 lorries arriving in Kent every day from mainland Europe, and another 5,000 leaving, delays at the border will quickly lead to queues forming on both sides of the channel. It’s in the EU’s interest to avoid that, just as it’s in ours – but in any event, we need to be prepared

That’s why I organised for a group of Kent MPs recently met the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, together with the head of Highways England. We need to be sure that Kent’s roads are ready for Brexit.

We have the £250m commitment for a lorry holding area which Kent MPs won from the Government in 2015, but that won’t be ready for spring next year. Instead, we need better temporary options. I have insisted that the M20 must be kept flowing in both directions.

Highways England have come up with a plan to use the hard shoulder and gaps in the central barriers – providing capacity for 3,000 queuing lorries and two-way flow of traffic. This summer, work will be carried out to harden the hard shoulder in preparation.

Meanwhile, work needs to continue on a longer term system for managing delays. We can expect a consultation on this later in the year.

The Port of Dover currently processes a lorry in average of 2 minutes through Customs and it is expected that this will increase to 20 minutes without the present or similar arrangements. Imperial College in London for BBC South East has forecast that an increase to 4 minutes will create a 17 mile tailback on the M20 and Kent County Council has already publicly expressed their concerns about the effect of delays on traffic across Kent which could lead to Operation Stack on a daily basis. It is expected that a 20 minute delay will cause traffic jams back to the M25 and beyond with local roads including those in Hollingbourne being gridlocked.

Mrs Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, can be contacted at helen.whately.mp@parliament.uk

Pictured below is Mrs Whately.

Mrs Helen Whately MP – Faversham and Mid Kent – Conservative.