London to Ashford to Dover Line
|London - Ashford- Dover Line|
The London-Ashford-Dover Line is one of two long-distance routes serving the coast of Kent, England; the other being the Chatham Main Line, which runs along the north Kent coast to Ramsgate and Dover via Canterbury East.
Trains on the routes are run by Southeastern.
The original main line was given sanction by Act of Parliament in 1836, running from London Bridge via Croydon East and Redhill (the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway's Brighton Main Line), Tonbridge, and Ashford to Folkestone and Dover. This circuitous route was the result of insistence on the part of Parliament that only one southerly route out of the capital was necessary; forcing the SER to share the LB&SCR's Brighton Main Line. This completely ignored the fact that the main London - Dover road had, since ancient times, followed a much more direct route; and it ignored the fact that the other great railway building projects did take direct routes whenever feasible. A passenger to Dover had a 20-mile longer journey than by the coaching route!
Due to competition with the LCDR (who had constructed the quicker Chatham Main Line and Ashford via Maidstone East Line (to Sevenoaks, Canterbury, Dover, Ramsgate, Ashford and Maidstone), the SER built a very expensive line via Sevenoaks and Orpington through the North Downs by means of summits and then long tunnels at both Knockholt and Sevenoaks. This "cut-off" line, 24 miles in length, reached Chislehurst on July 1 1865, but took three more years to reach Orpington and Sevenoaks (opening date March 2 1868) and Tonbridge (May 1 1868).
When the SER and LCDR merged in 1899 to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) the stations and track layout at Ashford and Dover were rationalised.
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link run in parallel to the line from Ashford to where it diverges at Cheriton.