Ashford International Rail Connectivity Project (Ashford Spurs)
This project upgraded the signalling at Ashford International so that the next generation of Eurostar trains could continue to serve the station. The main part of the project was completed within expected timescales on 27 March 2018 and was formally opened on 3 April 2018 by the then Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP.
The former rail signalling infrastructure at Ashford International Railway Station was incompatible with the new international trains set to be introduced. This project upgraded the signaling system on the ‘Spurs’ that link Ashford International Railway Station to High Speed 1 and modified the international platforms at Ashford to accommodate all future European gauge trains. This meant that Kent could retain future international rail services to Ashford.
Although the main works were completed in April 2018, further changes were made to resolve some ongoing issues with the conflict between AC/DC power supply systems that prevented trains from stopping. A way forward was identified in May 2019 and a solution has now been delivered, with project completion achieved in December 2019.
In partnership with Ashford Borough Council we retained joint oversight of this project, with infrastructure delivery undertaken by Network Rail. The project was a highly successful joint-working initiative involving the following stakeholders:
- Network Rail
- Network Rail (High Speed)
- High Speed 1 Limited
- Eurostar International Limited
- The Office of Rail and Road
- Ashford Borough Council
- Kent County Council
- Kent and Medway Economic Partnership
- The South East Local Enterprise Partnership
- The Department for Transport
Without the delivery of the project, international rail services would no longer be able to serve the station with adverse consequences for the local economy, employers, employees and residents.
The objectives of this scheme were to:
- facilitate the operation of the new generation of Siemens-built Class 374 Eurostar trains at Ashford International station
- secure the future of international rail services at Ashford which serve the whole of the east Kent area.
The approval to progress the Ashford International Rail connectivity project was taken by Matthew Balfour, KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation on 27 July 2015.
The decision by the SELEP Accountability Board to grant Local Growth Funding for the scheme was made on 26 May 2017.
This scheme was completed on time and within the original £10.5 million budget. The final cost of the project was £9.474 million. The surplus budget allocation has been redirected towards other Local Growth Fund projects.
The funding consisted of a contribution of £9.8 million from the Local Growth Fund, provided as part of the growth deal to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. An additional £700,000 was committed by the council to deliver the scheme with the support of the Regions of Connected Knowledge (RoCK) Project, an EU funded project through its Interreg IVB North-West Europe Programme.