Ashford International railway station
|Local authority||Borough of Ashford|
|Number of platforms||6|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections|
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|– Interchange||0.803 million|
|– Interchange||0.835 million|
|– Interchange||0.815 million|
|– Interchange||0.818 million|
|– Interchange||0.818 million|
|1 December 1842||Opened as "Ashford"|
|9 July 1923||Renamed "Ashford (Kent)"|
|8 January 1996||Commencement of Eurostar services|
|28 February 1996||Rebuilt and renamed "Ashford International"|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Ashford International from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
Ashford International railway station (IATA: QDH) is a National Rail international and regional station in Ashford, Kent. It sits at the intersection of several lines, including High Speed 1 and the South Eastern Main Line. Domestic trains that call at Ashford are operated by Southeastern and Southern, and international services by Eurostar.
The station was opened by the South Eastern Railway (SER) in 1842 as a temporary terminus of the line from London to Dover via Croydon. Connections to Folkestone, Canterbury and Hastings had opened within ten years. There have been two significant rebuilds; firstly in the 1960s as part of the South East Mainline electrification, and then to accommodate international services in the 1990s. The station was rebranded Ashford International in 1996. International services were reduced following the completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the opening of Ebbsfleet International in 2007, but subsequently expanded. Domestic services along High Speed 1 to St Pancras have been running since 2009.
The station is to the southeast of the town centre, and sits at the convergence of several important lines. These are High Speed 1 from London St Pancras International, the South Eastern Main Line from London Charing Cross to Dover Priory, the Maidstone line from London Victoria via Maidstone East, the Ashford to Ramsgate line via Canterbury West and the Marshlink line to Hastings. It is 56 miles 12 chains (90.4 km) down the line from Charing Cross (via Chelsfield) and 59 miles 19 chains (95.3 km) from Victoria (via Herne Hill).
The domestic terminal to the north of the tracks and the international terminal to the south are connected by a subway which has access to the platforms; access to the international trains on platforms 3 and 4 is only possible through an overbridge from the international terminal. The local bus stops and taxi ranks are at the entrance to the domestic terminal. The international terminal is connected to a multi-storey car park by a footbridge, while other parking facilities are adjacent to the domestic entrance. Eurostar trains use platforms 3 and 4, while domestic trains use the original platforms 1 and 2, and a new island platform (numbered 5 and 6) built by British Rail when the Channel Tunnel opened.
South Eastern Railway
The station was built by the South Eastern Railway (SER) and planned during the initial Railway Mania as a stop between Croydon and Dover. A special train from London Bridge ran on 28 November 1842, and the station formally opened on 1 December, along with the rest of the line from Redhill. The journey from London to Ashford could now be made in three and a half hours.
The original station consisted of two platforms with two through lines, along with wooden buildings. The line ended at Ashford until the extension to Folkestone opened on 28 June 1843. A connection to Canterbury West opened on 6 February 1846. The Marshlink line connection to Hastings opened on 13 February 1851, after several false starts owing to problems with constructing the line and rivalry between the competing SER and London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR).
The station was sometimes known as Ashford Junction. Another station, Ashford West, was opened by the LCDR on 1 July 1884 for services via Maidstone East to London. This only lasted 15 years until 1 January 1899 when passenger services were diverted to the former South Eastern Railway station. At the same time, the track was modified to give six separate approaches into the station, so that trains could pull up simultaneously. The complete Ashford West station, including buildings and platforms, survived for handling freight and engineering trains until it was closed and demolished around 1999 for construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
The station became part of the Southern Railway (SR) during the grouping of 1923. It was renamed to Ashford (Kent) on 9 July to avoid confusion with Ashford (Middlesex) railway station. Ashford became the main works depot in the south east after the SR reduced the works at Brighton to repairs-only in 1928.
For phase two of the Kent electrification scheme in 1962, the main station buildings on either side of the line were replaced between 1963 and 1966 by a footbridge including a booking hall, newsagent and catering facilities. The new scheme was the design of the Southern Region Architect, Nigel Wikeley.
Although most of the original station was swept away during the early 1960s rebuild, two substantial platform canopies dating from the South Eastern & Chatham Railway (SECR) era were retained, albeit without their original wooden valence until the later rebuild of the 1990s. The supporting columns of these canopies were stamped with the date 1908.
The station was rebuilt as Ashford International during the early 1990s for services to and from mainland Europe. It was planned as a partial park and ride side, catering for up to 2,000 vehicles, and as a means of regenerating the town. The rebuilding was designed by the British Rail associated Architecture and Design Group, and was inspired by the Maison de Verre, Paris. Two new platforms were built to the north of station, with the original down island platform taken over by international services. The total cost of the work was £80 million. To segregate passengers from domestic and international services, a dedicated entrance from the ticket barrier to the platforms was built. Construction was planned to begin in 1991 but delayed owing to a lack of government approval.
The majority of the overbridge and platform buildings from the early 1960s rebuild were destroyed during the project. A small section of the overbridge does remain however, as an emergency exit between the up island platform (platforms 1 and 2) and the up side car park.
When the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was completed in 2007, a dedicated fast line was built allowing through trains to bypass the station. A high-speed domestic service, operated by Southeastern to London St Pancras via Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International, began with a trial service in June 2009. A full service began that December. This link has allowed Ashford to become a commuter town for London. It has also led to the possibility of a service from Eastbourne and Hastings to St Pancras via Ashford International. In November 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, proposed a modification of the track layout at Ashford International to accommodate such services. The scheme has been supported by Hastings MP, Amber Rudd.
The Marshlink line from Ashford International to Ore is one of the few in the south east that has not yet been electrified, and is mostly single track beyond Appledore, which limits capacity. In May 2018, Southern announced the direct service from Ashford International to Brighton via Eastbourne would be discontinued. The company had wanted to cancel the service for some time, as it would allow them to add additional capacity between Eastbourne and Hastings, but had repeatedly faced objections from councillors along the line, including at Lewes.
Fastest timetabled journeys
from London St Pancras
Paris and Brussels
International services started on 8 January 1996, with the first stop being the 06:19 service from Waterloo. Before the completion of High Speed 1 in November 2007, twelve Eurostar trains a day called at Ashford, seven heading to Paris and five to Brussels. However, after the opening of Ebbsfleet International station, that number was reduced to three trains to/from Paris, and a daily service to Disneyland Paris.
A single direct train in each direction to Brussels was reinstated in 2009, following campaigning from Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council. This was expanded the following year to allow direct services between Ashford, Lille and Brussels-South on weekends, making day trips to European cities from Ashford possible.
In May 2015, a service to Marseille via Lyon and Avignon began running up to five times a week. Seasonal ski trains also run at weekends in the winter months to Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the French Alps. Using Eurostar services for domestic journeys to and from London is not permitted.[not in citation given] The international part of the station has bilingual signs, in both French and English.
In 2018, it was announced that the international platforms would undergo a £10m refurbishment to make them compatible with Eurostar's Class 374 units, branded as Eurostar e320, as well as to allow other operators to use the station.
So far only one Eurostar e320 has stopped at Ashford, with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, on board. On the 3 April 2018, Network Rail wrote: "The project has been delivered by Network Rail" but no other stops have occurred.
There are ticket office windows in the domestic booking hall, as well as ticket vending machines. There is a domestic ticket office window in the Eurostar station, staffed during morning peak only. The international ticket counter in the Eurostar station is only staffed for part of the day.
As of May 2018[update], the typical off-peak timetable is:
- 2 tph (trains per hour) to London St Pancras direct via Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International
- 2 tph to London Charing Cross, via Sevenoaks
- 2 tph to London Victoria via Maidstone East
- 2 tph to Dover Priory of which one continues to London St Pancras via Ramsgate and Faversham
- 3 tph to Canterbury West, of which two continue to Ramsgate and one of those continues to Margate
As of May 2019:
The first fatality on the South Eastern Railway occurred at Ashford in May 1843. A guard had stepped onto a running board to look for lost luggage, when the train suddenly started. He was decapitated when his head hit a sentry box.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ashford International railway station.|
- Train times and station information for Ashford International railway station from National Rail
- Ashford Station in the 1866 edition of Bradshaw's Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain & Ireland
- QDH on theAirDB
- Airport information for Ashford International railway station at Transport Search website.
- BVE Trainsim simulation from Ashford to Swanley
- Ashford International Rail Information.
- Station on navigable 1946 O. S. map