After a number of complaints about the state of Station Lane over several months the Hollingbourne Parish Council has succeeded in setting up a meeting with South Eastern Trains on the afternoon of Monday 27th March. The principal complaints relate to the fact that only about half of the Station Lane lights work at night which means that the Lane is potentially unsafe for pedestrians after dark.
Additionally there appears to be an increase in fly-tipping in the Lane since South Eastern Trains requested the removal of the Maidstone Borough Council recycling point last year. South Eastern Trains are responsible for removing the rubbish although Maidstone Borough Council can issue an enforcement order if they fail to do so.
The Parish Council meeting is with Mr Matthew Fraser, Maidstone Station Manager (Tel 07720-321079). The Station now has a ticket machine but no working information point although Maidstone Station can be contacted by calling 01622-680824.
There is currently an ongoing public consultation on the future of local rail services from December 2018 onwards and there is a Public Consultation Event at County Hall in Maidstone on 11th April from 4.30pm to 7pm which may not be the most convenient time for commuters as they may still be on a train. More details are at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/600437/south-eastern-franchise-consultation.pdf
Hollingbourne Parish Council has previously pressed Network Rail and more recently South Eastern Trains to release some of the land occupied by the former Goods Yard alongside Station Lane for affordable housing without success. A housing needs survey conducted some years ago by the Parish Council highlighted the fact that many young people from Hollingbourne cannot afford to buy houses in the village and the Parish Council identified the derelict Station Yard as a possible site for new homes. At present Wealden Homes are completing a development on the other side of Station Lane where the advertised price for 2 bedroomed house is in excess of £535,000.
Hollingbourne Parish Council will be represented at the 9th Annual Kent Rail Summit at County Hall on 15th May which is attended by executives from South Eastern Trains and by representatives from local Town and Parish Councils from across Kent.
Please see below for a copy of the South Eastern Franchise flyer which invites comments on local train services from December 2018.