Redhill–Tonbridge line

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Redhill–Tonbridge line
Bletchingley Tunnel 40.jpg
Looking east towards the Bletchingley Tunnel
TypeSuburban rail, Heavy rail
SystemNational Rail
South East England
TerminiTonbridge, Kent
Redhill, Surrey
Openedc. 1836
OwnerNetwork Rail
Rolling stockClass 377 Electrostar
Number of tracks2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC Third rail
Operating speed100 mph (160 km/h)
Tonbridge line
M23 motorway
(Coopers Hill Viaduct)
Bletchingley Tunnel
Crowhurst Spur
closed 1970s
Penshurst Tunnel
A21 Tonbridge Bypass
Tonbridge West Yard

The Redhill–Tonbridge line is a railway line running from Redhill, Surrey to Tonbridge, Kent in southeast England. It branches off the Brighton Main Line at Redhill and, after 20 miles, joins the South Eastern main line at Tonbridge[1]


It was originally part of the South Eastern Railway having been sanctioned by Act of Parliament in 1836 as part of the first rail route from London to Dover. This may explain its remarkably straight route: serving the settlements en route was a secondary consideration. Following the completion of new South Eastern Main Line in 1868, along which services run a more direct route between London and Tonbridge, the Redhill–Tonbridge line's function as the trunk route between London and Dover was transferred to the new line.

Aircraft coming into London's Croydon Airport in the early part of the 20th century used this line as a point of navigation. All the stations along this route had their names written in bold white paint on the roofs.

It starts with an initial curve just outside Redhill where it passes over the Quarry line which is in Redhill tunnel (649 yards). The Bletchingley Tunnel (grid reference TQ340486), about 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of Bletchingley is about 12 mile (0.80 km) long. At grid reference TQ400480 the "Crowhurst Spur"[2] connected with the East Grinstead branch of the Oxted line but this was lifted in the early 1970s. Just west of Edenbridge, in a hamlet called Troy Town it crosses, but does not connect with, the Uckfield branch of the Oxted line.[3]

The line was electrified (750 V DC third rail) in 1993 and services started to run through to London rather than being an extension of the Reading to Redhill North Downs Line service. The electrification also created a diversionary route for Eurostar services until 2007 from Waterloo International through Tonbridge and Ashford International.

Stations and services on the line are operated by Southern using Class 377 units. They provide an hourly shuttle service between Tonbridge and Redhill.


  • On 28 July 1845, a passenger train was run into by a steam locomotive at Penshurst, injuring about 30 people.[4]
  • On 21 January 1846, a bridge over the River Medway collapsed in a flood. The driver of a freight train was killed when he tried to jump clear of the train.[5]
  • On 1 April 1852, a passenger train was derailed at Edenbridge.[6]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Rail Maps - National Rail. Retrieved on 7 March 2009.
  2. ^ Southern E-Group article on the Crowhurst Spur
  3. ^ Collins Road Atlas Britain 2008 (Paperback) ISBN 0-00-725047-9
  4. ^ "Accident on the Dover Railway". The Times (18988). London. 29 July 1845. col A, p. 5.
  5. ^ "Fearful and Fatal Accident on the South Eastern Railway". The Times (19139). London. 21 January 1846. col D, p. 5.
  6. ^ "Accident to the Dover Express Train". The Standard (8626). London. 2 April 1852.