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
Local authorityCanterbury
Grid referenceTR145583
Station codeCBW
Managed bySoutheastern
Number of platforms2
DfT categoryD
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2014/15Increase 2.336 million
– Interchange Increase 96,584
2015/16Increase 2.406 million
– Interchange Increase 98,439
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
Key datesOpened 6 February 1846 (6 February 1846)
Listed status
Listed featureCanterbury West Station
Listing gradeGrade II listed
Entry number1242649[1]
Added to list7 September 1973
National RailUK railway stations
  • Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Canterbury West from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

Canterbury West railway station is a Grade II listed railway station, and the busier of the two stations in Canterbury in Kent, England. 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 and 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.


Although called Canterbury West, the station is about 12 mile (0.8 km) due north of Canterbury East station, and only about 20 yards (20 m) to its west. It is to the northwest of Canterbury Cathedral and north of Westgate and St Dunsdans level crossing.[2]


South Eastern Railway[edit]

The South Eastern Railway (SER) received 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 that the city was not central to the company's overall aims. They were ignored and construction started anyway, but the rival London, Chatham and 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 after the line was damaged by a bomb.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

In December 2013, a £535,000 upgrade to the station's forecourt and car park was completed.[17]


The rivalry between the SER and LCDR has meant there is no easy way to change from those former lines at Canterbury. A proposal for a Canterbury Parkway station, where 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 was being built at the time.[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]


The typical off peak service at Canterbury West in trains per hour is:[20]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Chartham   Southeastern
Ashford to Ramsgate
(via Canterbury West) line
Ashford International   Southeastern
High Speed 1
Disused railways
Terminus   British Rail
Southern Region

Canterbury and Whitstable Railway
  Blean & Tyler Hill Halt
Terminus   Southern Railway
Elham Valley 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.[21]



  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". London 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. ^ Hart 1984, pp. 71–72.
  15. ^ The Impact of High Speed One Scrutiny Review – Final Report (PDF). Canterbury City Council (Report). December 2011. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Canterbury West Re-opened" (Press release). Southeastern Railways. 20 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "MP Rosie Duffield in talks over proposals for new Canterbury Parkway railway station". Kent Online. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Canterbury West". National Rail. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Timetable 1 - London and Tonbridge to Ashford International, Canterbury West, Folkestone, Dover, Ramsgate and Margate" (PDF). Southeastern. 15 December 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  21. ^ Gray 1990, p. 251.


  • 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.
  • Hart, Brian (1984). The Elham Valley Line. Upper Bucklebury: Wild Swan Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-906867-22-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Gray, Adrian (1990). South Eastern Railway. Middleton Press. ISBN 978-0-906520-85-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Oppitz, Leslie (2003). Lost Railways of Kent. Countryside Books. p. 19. ISBN 1-85306-803-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • McCarthy, Colin; McCarthy, David (2007). Railway of Britain : Kent and Sussex. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-7110-3222-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[edit]

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