Network Rail has submitted a formal proposal to close the Folkestone Harbour branch line and Folkestone Harbour station.

A consultation has been launched into the planned closure after a study by Network Rail suggested that it would not be “financially appropriate or responsible” to keep it open.

The line, which connects Folkestone East Junction with Folkestone Harbour crossing the harbour viaduct, has ceased to be part of the national rail network since 2001 but is still used by chartered tourist trains.

Network Rail’s plans, however, may not signal the end of the line for the Folkestone Harbour link. Several agencies are working on plans to develop the seafront, part of which could include introducing tram-train services along the line, connecting to HS1 services in and out of London.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route managing director for Kent, said: “We have carried out an extensive assessment of the Folkestone Harbour branch line, taking all aspects into consideration.

“We feel it would be irresponsible of us to continue to maintain this unused line, largely at the taxpayers’ expense, at a time when we are doing all we can to make the rest of our business more efficient.”

The consultation will close on February 21, 2014.

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