Ashford Spurs (International Rail Connectivity)
The plans of Eurostar International Ltd to introduce new Eurostar trains creates challenges for future International connectivity of Ashford and 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.
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 was then divided into three phases:
GRIP 1 to 3a (business case development and project cost estimate) is being undertaken by Network Rail and financed by Network Rail, Kent County Council, Ashford BC, HS1, Eurostar, and the EU RoCK project.
GRIP 3b to 5 (detailed design and procurement) will be financed by Local Growth Fund (LGF) (round 2) through the SELEP, for which KCC will be the client.
GRIP 6 to 8 (installation, testing, commissioning and close-out) will be financed by some LGF round 2 and some LGF round 3. The delivery of the project will be managed by Network Rail.
Our criteria are that any solution should 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 Investment - Kent & Medway, LGF3, More than £2m