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European Transport Funders Fact Finding Visit to Ashford

15 February 2008
Hitachi  bullet trains

Key members of European partnership which provides funding to improve train station access, integration and appearances visited Ashford as part of a fact finding tour last week.

Two High Speed Train projects, HSTconnect and HSTintegration, lead by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) are European funded projects that work to improve the appearance of station areas and improve the links between high speed train stations and town centres.

On Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 February it was Ashford's turn to host a 'best practice' visit by the HSTintegration European partners including delegates from the UK, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

The visit, hosted by Ashford’s Future included presentations from the partnership on future plans for the town, a tour of the public realm works in Bank Street and Elwick Road and a trip to the Hitachi Trains depot to view and ride on the prototype Hitachi bullet trains due to come into service from December 2009.

Ashford's Future Transport Manager Andy Phillips, who is managing Ashford's project investments, explained: "The HSTintegration project is bringing in around £1million of investment to help Ashford realise its potential as a business gateway between Britain and the rest of Europe.

"The funding has been used in Ashford toward the public realm improvements in Elwick Road and Bank Street including the public art 'flume' which marks the route between the station and the town, improved pedestrian links to the International Station area and to and from Beaver Road, and improved cycle parking and other transport connections to the domestic side of the station.

"We received many positive comments about the work being undertaken now, the ambitious plans for Ashford's future and the partnerships that are being forged to promote a more 'joined up' approach to improved transport and development opportunities in the town."

Egon Walesch, manager of the two HST projects explained: "“The HST partnership brings together partners from across North West Europe co-operating to ensure that regions are well-placed to benefit from high speed train services.

"Through research, pilots, sharing of best practice and influencing policy developments, the HST projects make a clear case for better integration of public transport provision and facilities in order to improve regional prosperity and competitiveness.

"Seeing first-hand developments such as the improvements to the public realm supported by HSTintegration and the preparations for the introduction of domestic high speed services in 2009, this visit brought home to the partnership the great strides being made in Ashford."

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