Transport secretary Geoff Hoon visited Kent Thameside yesterday to investigate the viability of Crossrail trains running through north Kent stations.

He toured Ebbsfleet and Dartford with Kent Thameside Regeneration Partnership.

Kevin Lynes, chairman of the Kent Thameside Regeneration Partnership, said extending Crossrail trains to north Kent would give regeneration plans in the area a 'substantial boost'.

He said: 'The secretary of state will see how the high speed rail link is already bringing tremendous focus to Kent Thameside. We aim to deliver over 25,000 new homes and 50,000 new jobs in the area.

'Joining up Dartford with Crossrail will be an added boost for the regeneration of north Kent by establishing a direct rail link between Ebbsfleet, Docklands, the City of London and Heathrow. This will be an added incentive in persuading businesses to locate to Kent Thameside and create additional jobs opportunities for local people.'

The Kent Thameside Regeneration Partnership comprises public and private sector partners, working together on regeneration plans for this area – which stretches along the south bank of the Thames between London and the Medway towns, incorporating the Boroughs of Dartford and Gravesham, north of the A2, and including Ebbsfleet and Bluewater