Canterbury West railway station

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Canterbury West
National Rail
Canterbury West railway station platforms.JPG
The platforms, viewed from the passenger bridge
General information
LocationCanterbury, Canterbury
Grid referenceTR145583
Managed bySoutheastern
Other information
Station codeCBW
ClassificationDfT category D
Opened6 February 1846
2016/17Increase 2.468 million
 Interchange Increase 0.108 million
2017/18Increase 2.581 million
 Interchange Increase 0.119 million
2018/19Increase 2.662 million
 Interchange Decrease 0.114 million
2019/20Decrease 2.552 million
 Interchange Increase 0.126 million
2020/21Decrease 0.652 million
 Interchange Decrease 31,425
Listed Building – Grade II
FeatureCanterbury West Station
Designated7 September 1973
Reference no.1242649[1]
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Canterbury West railway station is a Grade II listed railway station, and the busier of the two stations in Canterbury in Kent, England. The station as well as all services are operated by Southeastern with both main line and high speed trains serving the station.

The station and its line was built by the South Eastern Railway and opened in 1846. It was the first mainline station in Canterbury, while the later Canterbury East was built by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. There was also a connection to the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, first railway in Kent, and later to the Elham Valley Railway; these have both since closed.


The station is to the northwest of Canterbury Cathedral and north of Westgate and St Dunstans level crossing.[2]

Canterbury West is approximately 12 mile (0.8 km) to the north of Canterbury’s other station, Canterbury East. Both stations are located due west of Canterbury’s city centre; in fact, despite their names, the two stations lie on the same line of longitude.


South Eastern Railway[edit]

The South Eastern Railway (SER) was authorised by an Act of Parliament to construct a railway to Canterbury in June 1836. Local residents were generally opposed to the plan as the SER's lines did not go in the direction that they wanted, and the city was not central to the company's overall aims. They were ignored and construction started anyway, but the rival London, Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) decided to promote a line from Chatham to Margate and Ramsgate in response.[3]

The station opened on 6 February 1846 when the SER began services to Ashford.[4] It was originally called Canterbury as it was the only mainline station in the city at that time.[5][6] A special excursion train ran on the opening date, but was delayed owing to a breakdown at Tonbridge.

Following the opening of another Canterbury station by the LCDR on 9 July 1860, it was renamed to Canterbury West on 1 July 1889 to avoid confusion.[7][6]

Two months later on 13 April 1846, services were extended to Ramsgate,[8] and to Whitstable after conversion of the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway and closure of the Canterbury North Lane terminus.[9][5] The station was built with two central through tracks and three platforms, one for the Whitstable branch.[10]

The signalling was upgraded in 1874 at a cost of £1,350 as part of general upgrades along the line.[11] The subway was added in April 1877 after the connecting footbridge had been damaged after strong gales.[11]

In October 1878, the SER appealed to the LCDR that they should find a way of integrating the city's two stations, or providing a joint one somewhere else.[11]

On 1 July 1889 the Elham Valley Railway reached Canterbury from Folkestone and at this time the run-in boards read Canterbury (SER) Change for Whitstable and Elham Valley Line.[12][10]

Later history[edit]

The Whitstable branch closed to passenger traffic on 1 January 1931,[13] and traffic from the Elham Valley into Canterbury ceased from 25 October 1940 when the line was requisitioned by the Army. Following the Southern Region Kent Coast Electrification Scheme, Phase 2 electric services started on 18 June 1962.[8] The central through tracks were removed in 1979.[10] Goods services were withdrawn on 31 December 1986. [7]

In 1973 the station buildings were Grade II listed by English Heritage.[1]

On 13 December 2009, Canterbury West became part of the Southeastern High Speed service to London St Pancras using the High Speed line from Ashford International, significantly reducing journey times to London.[14]

In 2010, the railway station was refurbished to improve the station's accessibility. Funded by the Department for Transport's Access for All Scheme, the main change was the construction of a new footbridge allowing a step-free route between the station entrance and both platforms using two lifts. Other improvements include new tactile paving along the edge of the platform, new toilet facilities, new customer information screens and lighting, the redecoration of the ticket office and changes to the car park layout.[15]

In December 2013, a £535,000 upgrade to the station's forecourt and car park was completed.[16]


The former rivalry between the SER and LCDR meant there is no easy way to change between Canterbury East and West. A proposal for a Canterbury Parkway station, at the place the two lines cross, has been intermittently suggested since the 1980s. In 2018, local MP Rosie Duffield suggested the new station would be a better alternative to a new multi-story car park for Canterbury West, which opened in June 2020.[17] [18]


Platform 1 serves stations to Ashford and London. The main station buildings are on this side, and have been covered with corrugated iron since their 1846 construction. There is a recessed part of the building in the centre with two Doric order fluted columns and pilasters; this is flanked by two storeys and three windows either side.[1] Platform 2 serves Ramsgate and Margate. The platforms are connected both by an overbridge and a subway.[19]

Platform 1 houses the main ticket office - there are 2 counters and 3 self-service machines - plus a cafe and public toilets. Both platforms have waiting rooms. [20]


All services at Canterbury West are operated by Southeastern using Class 375, 377 and 395 EMUs.

The typical off-peak service in trains per hour is:[21]

During the peak hours, the station is also served by trains to/from London Charing Cross via Tonbridge.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Disused railways
Terminus   British Rail
Southern Region

  Blean & Tyler Hill Halt
  Southern Railway
  Canterbury South


On 28 December 1874, two men were injured when they fell off the platform in front of an oncoming train. One was killed instantly, and the other required a leg to be amputated.[11] On 23 November the following year, a guard was killed after being trapped between the buffers while on duty for shunting trains.

On 1 January 1877, the station roof was damaged following bad weather.[11]

On 26 July 1884, several people were injured after a gas explosion at the station.[22]



  1. ^ a b c Historic England, "Canterbury West Station (1242649)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 26 June 2017
  2. ^ "Canterbury West to Canterbury East". Google Maps. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  3. ^ Gray 1990, p. 247.
  4. ^ "Opening of the Canterbury Branch of the South-Eastern Railway". Evening Standard. England. 7 February 1846. Retrieved 27 June 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ a b Gray 1990, p. 241.
  6. ^ a b Butt 1995, p. 53.
  7. ^ a b McCarthy & McCarthy 2007, p. 122.
  8. ^ a b McCarthy & McCarthy 2007, p. 53.
  9. ^ McCarthy & McCarthy 2007, Map Five.
  10. ^ a b c "Canterbury West". Kent Rail. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d e Gray 1990, p. 250.
  12. ^ Oppitz 2003, p. 109.
  13. ^ Oppitz 2003, p. 19.
  14. ^ The Impact of High Speed One Scrutiny Review – Final Report (PDF). Canterbury City Council (Report). December 2011. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Canterbury West Re-opened" (Press release). Southeastern Railways. 20 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  16. ^ "Forecourt work complete at Canterbury West station" (Press release). Southeastern. 11 December 2013. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  17. ^ "MP Rosie Duffield in talks over proposals for new Canterbury Parkway railway station". Kent Online. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  18. ^ Station Road West multi-storey now open Canterbury City Council, 24 June 2020]
  19. ^ "Canterbury West". National Rail. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  20. ^ "National Rail station map". Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  21. ^ Table 194, 197, 207 National Rail timetable, December 2021
  22. ^ Gray 1990, p. 251.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°17′2.63″N 1°4′31.37″E / 51.2840639°N 1.0753806°E / 51.2840639; 1.0753806