Network Rail has commenced upgrade works at Ashford International station in order to prepare the site to serve new international trains, including e320 Eurostar units.
The upgrade works at the station’s platforms will enable Eurostar’s e320 locomotives, and high-speed trains from other operators, to access the station and continue to provide high-speed international services from Ashford.
Network Rail engineers are currently installing new signalling equipment at the station, as well as carrying out other upgrades to the platform to make it suitable for trains featuring European width configurations.
The £10m upgrade project is being funded by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership via the Local Growth Fund.
It is also backed by Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council.
Network Rail senior commercial scheme sponsor Mark Ellerby said: “When Ashford International was rebuilt in the 1990s, the platforms used by international trains were not built to full European standards, because the Eurostars of that era ran on normal GB tracks.
“The work we are doing with new signalling equipment and the platforms will future-proof the town’s station and preserve its status as part of Europe’s high-speed network, one of only four stations in the country to have that honour.”
The Eurostar’s new e320 trains are scheduled to begin accessing the refurbished platforms and signalling systems at Ashford from April.
Kent County Council Transport cabinet member councillor Matthew Balfour said: “Kent County Council fully supports this investment at Ashford International, which will ensure that Kent continues to be served by European rail services at both its international stations.
“The County Council has worked in close partnership with Ashford Borough Council, Network Rail, Eurostar, High Speed 1 and the Office of Road & Rail to ensure that this project is brought to completion.”