MPs pushing to make Stratford International live up to its name

A Deutsche Bahn Inter City Express train could soon be a familiar sight in Stratford. Picture: Garet

A Deutsche Bahn Inter City Express train could soon be a familiar sight in Stratford. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Derailed plans to give east London a truly international rail link are hoping to be brought back on track in the new year.

Newham MPs Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown have made a renewed case to make sure Stratford International lives up to its name.

Built prior to the London 2012 Games, the station was always intended as a gateway to France and Germany, with the aim of continuing the post-Olympic boon.

But despite serving as a DLR station since 2011 and Southeastern Railway’s High Speed 1 line since 2009, plans to focus on its international future have long gone quiet.

“This is something I feel very strongly about,” said East Ham MP Mr Timms.

“We are in this ridiculous position – we have a station called Stratford International on the outside, but no international trains have stopped there.”

Eurostar had originally been mooted as operator for the Paris-Stratford connection, but has long since maintained it will not be looking at the link, giving journey times and additional costs as reasons against the move.

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“Our decision not to stop at Stratford International remains unchanged,” a spokesman told the Recorder, adding that additional costs for stopping international trains weren’t currently “commercially justifiable”.

However, Mr Timms, who has campaigned for an international link since 1988, said he would be approaching both Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn in the New Year.

A spokesperson for the German operator said they were “still planning to operate an ICE [Intercity-Express] train service from Germany to London” but couldn’t give any further details, adding: “The start date of our services to London depends on the delivery of the ICE trains class 407.

“Having the trains running with the Belgian and French systems is a prerequisite to move on with our plannings for the London service. The economic efficiency of the service has to be ensured, too.”

West Ham MP Ms Brown said that the capital’s “centre of gravity” was moving east”, adding: “Over the next 25 years, London’s growth will be concentrated here. Stratford is already the sixth busiest rail hub in the UK.

“It is busier than Euston and Paddington stations – and it makes economic and strategic sense for Stratford to be integral to the nation’s high-speed network.”

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, also pledged his support to create an international link.

He said: “The true economic potential of the area, London, and the UK as a whole can only be fully realised if this direct link to Europe is opened up.”

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