Eurostar train

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Passengers in Kent will have to start their journeys at St Pancras in London

Eurostar trains will not stop in Kent until 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company has announced.

They have not been stopping at Ashford or Ebbsfleet since March but the decision has now been taken to extend that for the next two years.

Passengers in Kent will have to start their journeys at St Pancras in London.

Eurostar said bookings were down 90% compared to last year, and the industry was too unpredictable due to quarantine restrictions.

The cross-Channel train operator added that it would be reducing its timetable for next year, focusing only on its core routes and destinations where there was the highest demand.

A Eurostar spokesman said the decision had not been taken lightly.

“Given the uncertain outlook, it is crucial that we adapt and take action to reduce our costs so that we protect our business for the future,” he said.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) has urged the government to intervene in a bid to avert job losses.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary, said: “We will do all we can to work with the company to protect jobs, but we must see meaningful discussions for our members about options for those working at these two stations.

“Frankly, the extended closure of Ashford and Ebbsfleet is another clear sign that Eurostar needs help from the UK government – something I called for months ago.

“Ministers can’t be allowed to sit on the sidelines. They must act now.”

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