Highspeed For Sandwich
A preview run of the high speed service which will take 50,000 golf fans from London to the Open in Sandwich in July set off from St Pancras International this morning.
Sports Minister, and MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, Hugh Robertson was there to wave the train off on its 80minute journey to the Kent coast town.
The special Southeastern service cuts 55 minutes from the journey on conventional trains, and will operate at half hourly intervals on Championship days (14-17 July 2011).
The first train will leave London at 4.38am on the first two days of the tournament, ensuring fans will arrive in time for tee-off, and then an hour later on Saturday morning, and two hours later on the Sunday.
Mr Robertson said: "The High Speed train service makes it a lot easier for people to enjoy what the Kent coastline has to offer, especially those golf fans who will be making their way from the capital to watch the world's top golfers at The Open Championship at Sandwich in July."
Royal St George's at Sandwich last hosted the Open in 2003, it is the first location outside Scotland to do so, and this year will be the 14th time it has played host to the competition.
It is hoped the event will provide a big boost to the local economy, businesses and attractions in the wake of the announcement that Pfizer is pulling out of the area, with the loss of 2,400 jobs.