The Government has today announced the names of the approved bidders who will take over the running of the line through Hollingbourne from next year. The present franchisees are South Eastern, a subsidiary of UK transport company Govia, who are one of the approved bidders.
In addition Stagecoach has been shortlisted, along with Trenitalia and South Eastern Holdings, a joint venture company owned by the East Japan Railway Company, the Dutch firm Abellio and Japan’s Mitsui.
Earlier this year there was a public consultation on the matter and there was some concern about proposals to reduce commuter services despite the fact that thousands of new homes are being built around Maidstone for commuters to London. The present service is oversubscribed with standing room only from Maidstone East to London which takes just under an hour.
At the KCC Rail Summit at County Hall in May, Mr David Statham, the CEO of South Eastern Trains was challenged by a representative of Hollingbourne Parish Council to repair the lights on Station Lane which had remained unlit for almost a year because of a dispute over responsibility between South Eastern and Network Rail. The lights now work and a barrier has been installed over the culvert which carries the bourne under the Lane.
Another change in Station Lane is a footpath through which links the Lane to the adjoining Wealden Homes development which has no pavements or street lighting.
Pictured below is Station Lane which leads from Hollingbourne Station and which is used by over 40,000 passengers a year. On the left is one of the lights that have been repaired since the May Kent Rail Summit and on the right is the end of the new footpath which leads across Network Rail land through a fence and hedge and on to the new Wealden Homes development at Godfrey Meadow. The verges are maintained by South Eastern Trains. At the end of the Lane on the right is the site of the former recycling site which was closed by Maidstone Borough Council at the request of South Eastern Trains.