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Ashford Spurs (International Rail Connectivity)


Approval Status


Fully Approved

Delivery Status


LGF Project Delivered

Project Completion Date


Spring 2020

The plans of Eurostar International Ltd to introduce new Eurostar trains creates challenges for future international connectivity of Ashford as existing rail signalling infrastructure at Ashford International Railway Station is currently incompatible with the new International trains set to be introduced.

The Ashford International Rail Connectivity project will upgrade the signalling system at Ashford International Railway Station and will take forward the vehicle change and compatibility process to ensure the retention of international rail services to Ashford.

Project need

The need for this project has arisen with the introduction by Eurostar of the new Class 374 trains, which are compliant with the modern European signalling systems (ETCS and KVB) but not with AWS/TPWS (ex-British Rail signalling system). These trains will be able to operate on the whole of HS1 and through the Channel Tunnel, but not, at present, on the Spurs which link HS1 with Ashford International station. Without the delivery of the project, international rail services will no longer be able to serve the station with adverse consequences for the local economy, employers, employees and residents.

Project delivery plan

The project has been divided into three phases: GRIP 1 to 3a (business case development and project cost estimate) will be undertaken by Network Rail and financed by Network Rail, Kent County Council, Ashford Borough Council, HS1, Eurostar, and the EU RoCK project. GRIP 3b to 5 (detailed design and procurement) will be financed through the Local Growth Fund, for which Kent County Council will be the client. GRIP 6 to 8 (installation, testing, commissioning and close-out) will be financed through the Local Growth Fund. The delivery of the project will be managed by Network Rail.

Project objectives

It is intended that the project will facilitate:

  • The continuation of the current level (as of August 2016) of Eurostar services at Ashford International Station (by March 2018).
  • The introduction of the new Class 374 Eurostar trains serving Ashford International Station (by March 2018).
  • An ‘operational’ route through Ashford International Station for the new Eurostar Class 374 passenger trains to access the Station via the Ashford Spurs (by March 2018).
  • A cost effective solution through implementation and ongoing maintenance.
  • Growth in jobs and the prosperity of the East Kent economy through the retention of international passenger services in Ashford.
  • An equivalent level of protection to today’s system.
  • A solution that will be operational and continue to allow access to Ashford International Station via the Ashford Spurs for any international trains operating to European gauge standards until the implementation of ETCS (or an equivalent compatible upgrade solution).

Capital Programme delivery update

Take a look at our update on the delivery of the Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Growing Places Fund (GPF) capital programmes.

SELEP Capital Investment Programme

£579m of investment to East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock

In total the SELEP Growth Deal with Government has brought £579m of investment to East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal (2015-2021) we aim to deliver 78,000 jobs and 29,000 homes across the SELEP area, with the Deal set to attract a further £960m of investment into the South East over the six year period.

Find out more here
Funding value: £7.887m
Total Project cost: £8.587m
Return to Capital Investment