‘New era’ for high-speed rail?

The government claimed the launch of new Javelin trains between London and Kent is just the start of a new era of high-speed rail travel in the UK.

Operated by Southeastern, the service will run between Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras, reaching speeds of up to 140mph (225km/h) on the new High Speed 1 (HS1) line. The total journey time will be reduced from 82 minutes to 37 minutes, with the Hitachi-built train taking 17 minutes to reach Ebbsfleet.

Speaking at the launch, transport minister Lord Adonis said: ‘We have seen the future and it works and we want to see a great deal more of high-speed rail in this country in the year ahead. Today is not only a great day for those towns that are going to now be connected on the high-speed line with the fastest and best-ever service they’ve had; it is also, I believe, a seminal moment for the development of high-speed rail in Britain.’

Alistair Dormer, general manager at Hitachi Europe Rail, added: ‘Today’s launch is an important milestone for us and our first opportunity to fully demonstrate the calibre of high-quality rolling stock that Hitachi can offer the UK, as well as the rest of Europe. We are immensely proud to be part of a project that is helping to shape the development of the UK’s rail industry and infrastructure.’

So far, Hitachi has delivered 18 400ft (122m) trains to Ashford, with an additional 11 to be shipped from Japan later this month. Southeastern confirmed that a limited high-speed ‘preview’ service will begin on 29 June in order to ensure the smooth running of the trains before they are fully introduced to passengers on 13 December.

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