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Eurostar cutbacks deliver blow to Ashford

Eurostar is set to close down its operations at Ashford in Kent and delay the launch of services from its new station at Stratford, adjacent to the London Olympic site, for at least two years as part of a sweeping cost-cutting plan.
Eurostar staff were told yesterday that it intends to scrap all services from Ashford International to Brussels and cut the number of trains to Paris to just three a day.
The decision will come as a bitter blow to Kent and Ashford in particular, which has been designated as one of the Government's development towns with plans for 30,000 new homes in the area.
Even though the station will be complete next year, ready for the opening of the 68-mile Channel Tunnel Rail Link between the Kent coast and St Pancras in London, Eurostar has decided that it will not be used until a new fleet of high-speed commuter trains enters service in 2009 or 2010.
Stratford is costing about £120m to build.

Michael Harrison, Business Editor, Independent online, 12 September 2006, (Extract)

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