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Ashford International railway station

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.

Ashford International National Rail
Ashford Intl station bldg.jpg
Local authorityBorough of Ashford
Coordinates51°08′37″N 0°52′30″E / 51.1435°N 0.8750°E / 51.1435; 0.8750Coordinates: 51°08′37″N 0°52′30″E / 51.1435°N 0.8750°E / 51.1435; 0.8750
Grid referenceTR011421
Station codeAFK
Managed bySoutheastern
Number of platforms6
DfT categoryB
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Increase 3.481 million
– Interchange Increase 0.803 million
2014/15Increase 3.615 million
– Interchange Increase 0.835 million
2015/16Increase 3.765 million
– Interchange Decrease 0.815 million
2016/17Increase 3.798 million
– Interchange Increase 0.818 million
2017/18Increase 3.901 million
– Interchange Steady 0.818 million
1 December 1842Opened as "Ashford"
9 July 1923Renamed "Ashford (Kent)"
8 January 1996Commencement of Eurostar services
28 February 1996Rebuilt and renamed "Ashford International"[1]
National RailUK 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.

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).[2]

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.[3] The international terminal is connected to a multi-storey car park by a footbridge, while other parking facilities are adjacent to the domestic entrance.[4] 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.[5]

While all tracks are electrified with 750 V DC third rail, platforms 3 to 6 are also electrified with 25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead lines.[6]


South Eastern RailwayEdit

The station was built by the South Eastern Railway (SER) and planned during the initial Railway Mania as a stop between Croydon and Dover.[7] 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.[8] The journey from London to Ashford could now be made in three and a half hours.[9]

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.[9] A connection to Canterbury West opened on 6 February 1846.[10] 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).[11][12]

The station was sometimes known as Ashford Junction.[13] Another station, Ashford West, was opened by the LCDR on 1 July 1884 for services via Maidstone East to London.[14] This only lasted 15 years until 1 January 1899 when passenger services were diverted to the former South Eastern Railway station.[13] At the same time, the track was modified to give six separate approaches into the station, so that trains could pull up simultaneously.[15] 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.[16]

Southern RailwayEdit

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.[13] Ashford became the main works depot in the south east after the SR reduced the works at Brighton to repairs-only in 1928.[17]

British RailEdit

The station in 1990

The station passed on to the Southern Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948.[18]

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.[19]

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,[20] 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.[citation needed]

When sectorisation was introduced in the 1980s by British Rail, the station was served by Network SouthEast until privatisation.[21]

International stationEdit

The previous station entrance, dating from the 1990s

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.[22] 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.[23][24] To segregate passengers from domestic and international services, a dedicated entrance from the ticket barrier to the platforms was built.[22] Construction was planned to begin in 1991 but delayed owing to a lack of government approval.[25]

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.[citation needed]

When the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was completed in 2007, a dedicated fast line was built allowing through trains to bypass the station.[22] 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.[26] A full service began that December.[27] This link has allowed Ashford to become a commuter town for London.[28] 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.[29][30]


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.[31][32]

International servicesEdit

Eurostar services
London St Pancras
Ebbsfleet International
Ashford International
British portal
Channel Tunnel
French portal
Lille Europe
Rotterdam Centraal
Amsterdam Centraal
Seasonal and extended services
Avignon TGV
Aime-La Plagne
(set down only)
Fastest timetabled journeys
from London St Pancras

Paris and BrusselsEdit

International services started on 8 January 1996, with the first stop being the 06:19 service from Waterloo.[33][34] 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,[35][36] and a daily service to Disneyland Paris.[37]

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.[38]

Other destinationsEdit

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.[39][failed verification] 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.[40]

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"[41] but no other stops have occurred.


There are ticket office windows in the domestic booking hall, as well as ticket vending machines.[42] 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.[43]


As of May 2018, the typical off-peak timetable is:

As of May 2019:

The international platforms
Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Ebbsfleet International   Southeastern
High Speed 1
  Canterbury West
Stratford International     Folkestone West
Pluckley   Southeastern
South East Main Line
Ashford to Ramsgate
(via Canterbury West) Line
Charing   Southeastern
Maidstone Line
Terminus   Southern
Marshlink Line
  Ham Street
  International services  
St Pancras International   Eurostar
High Speed 1
  Paris Nord
St Pancras International   Eurostar
High Speed 1
Ebbsfleet International   Eurostar
High Speed 1
St Pancras International   Eurostar
High Speed 1
Ebbsfleet International   Eurostar
High Speed 1
St Pancras International     Lille-Europe
Disused railways
Waterloo International   Eurostar
London to Paris/Brussels
Pluckley   British Rail
Southern Region

South Eastern Main Line
Hothfield   British Rail
Southern Region

Maidstone Line


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.[9]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "Eurostar Press Release, "Eurostar celebrates 10 years at Ashford International"". Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2008.
  2. ^ Yonge, John (November 2008) [1994]. Jacobs, Gerald (ed.). Railway Track Diagrams 5: Southern & TfL (3rd ed.). Bradford on Avon: Trackmaps. map 11B. ISBN 978-0-9549866-4-3.
  3. ^ "National Rail Enquiries -".
  4. ^ Parking Review Report (PDF) (Report). Ashford Borough Council. December 2014. p. 31. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  5. ^ "National Rail Enquiries -".
  6. ^ "Ashford Interational". Kent Rail. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  7. ^ Gray 1990, p. 11.
  8. ^ Gray 1990, p. 18.
  9. ^ a b c Gray 1990, p. 19.
  10. ^ Butt 1995, p. 53.
  11. ^ Butt 1995, p. 113.
  12. ^ Gray 1990, p. 211.
  13. ^ a b c Butt 1995, p. 20.
  14. ^ Grant 2017, p. 352.
  15. ^ "Some South-Eastern Improvements". The Times. 6 April 1899. p. 5. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Wragg 2003, p. 82.
  18. ^ Marshall & Kinder 1982, p. 455.
  19. ^ Lawrence 2018, p. 97.
  20. ^ "Ashford". Kent Rail. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  21. ^ Barclay 2018, p. 75.
  22. ^ a b c Blow 2012, p. 127.
  23. ^ Penny 1996, p. 127.
  24. ^ Dormer, Peter (14 July 1993). "Architecture: A station you'll want to come home to: The railway temples of old are returning in Modernist guise". The Independent. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Trains will not fit prefab station". The Times. 5 October 1991. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  26. ^ "Fast and surreal: Ashford to London on the high speed train". Kent Online. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  27. ^ "Major investment by Network Rail and Kent County Council will mean shorter journeys between Ramsgate and London". Kent Online. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  28. ^ "Ashford to St Pancras – London's most envied commuter route". London Evening Standard. 24 August 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Plan to introduce direct trains from Eastbourne to London St Pancras". Eastbourne Herald. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  30. ^ "Hastings and Rye MP, Amber Rudd meets with Minister to state case for high speed rail services". Hastings Observer. 1 March 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  31. ^ "Plans to axe unpopular two-carriage Eastbourne train service". Eastbourne Herald. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  32. ^ "Lewes 'losing out' under new rail timetable". Sussex Express. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  33. ^ "Eurostar train puts Kent on timetable". The Times. 9 January 1996. p. 6. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  34. ^ "Rail Romance Revived". The Times. 9 January 1996. p. 17. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  35. ^ "New Eurostar station causes anger in Ashford". The Independent. 27 October 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  36. ^ "New station means Eurostar change". BBC News. 12 September 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  37. ^ "Disneyland Paris". The Times. 4 January 1997. p. 5. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  38. ^ Rail Action Plan for Kent (PDF) (Report). Kent County Council. April 2011. p. 33. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  39. ^ "Eurostar". Retrieved 5 September 2014.[failed verification]
  40. ^ "Ashford International modified for use by Eurostar e320 trainsets". Railway Gazette. 19 January 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  41. ^ "Ashford station's international future looks bright as first modern high-speed train calls en-route to Paris [and Brussels]". Ken Online. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  42. ^ "Station facilities for Ashford International". National Rail Enquiries. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  43. ^ "Ashford International". Eurostar. Eurostar. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  44. ^ "Book 1 – London to Tonbridge, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Dover, and Margate". Southeastern. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  45. ^ "Ashford International to Hastings and Eastbourne" (PDF). Southern Railway. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  46. ^ "Timetable Core destinations" (PDF). Eurostar. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  47. ^ "Continental connections and Disney timetable" (PDF). Eurostar. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.


  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.
  • Barclay, Kenny (2018). British Rail in the 1980s and 1990s: Electric Locomotives, Coaches, DEMU and EMUs. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-445-67022-5.
  • Blow, Christopher (2012). Transport Terminals and Modal Interchanges. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-35230-0.
  • Grant, Donald (2017). Directory of the Railway Companies of Great Britain. Troubadour Publishing. ISBN 978-1-788-03768-6.
  • Gray, Adrian (1990). South Eastern Railway. Middleton Press. ISBN 978-0-906520-85-7.
  • Lawrence, David (2018). British Rail Architecture 1948-97. Crecy Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-860-93685-5.
  • Marshall, C.F. Dendy; Kinder, R.W (1982) [1963]. History of the Southern Railway. Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0059-X.
  • Penny, Charles (1996). Channel Tunnel Transport System. Thomas Telford. ISBN 978-0-727-72515-8.
  • Wragg, David (2003). The Southern Railway Handbook 1923 - 1947. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-3294-5.
  • Jowett, Alan (2000). Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas (1st ed.). Penryn, Cornwall: Atlantic Transport Publishers. ISBN 978-0-906899-99-1. OCLC 228266687.

External linksEdit