Tonbridge railway station

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Tonbridge National Rail
Tonbridge station facade.jpg
The station building in 2018
Local authorityBorough of Tonbridge and Malling
Coordinates51°11′28″N 0°16′16″E / 51.191°N 0.271°E / 51.191; 0.271Coordinates: 51°11′28″N 0°16′16″E / 51.191°N 0.271°E / 51.191; 0.271
Grid referenceTQ586460
Station codeTON
Managed bySoutheastern
Number of platforms4
DfT categoryB
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Decrease 4.053 million
– Interchange Increase 0.640 million
2014/15Increase 4.207 million
– Interchange Increase 0.678 million
2015/16Increase 4.337 million
– Interchange Increase 0.679 million
2016/17Increase 4.414 million
– Interchange Decrease 0.510 million
2017/18Decrease 4.391 million
– Interchange Decrease 0.495 million
26 May 1842Opened as "Tunbridge"
January 1852Renamed (Tunbridge Junction)
1864Resited 310 yards (280 m) west
May 1893Renamed (Tonbridge Junction)
July 1929Renamed (Tonbridge)[1]
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Tonbridge from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
Development of
railway station
May 1842
September 1845
Tunbridge Junction
Tunbridge Junction
Tunbridge Junction
Tonbridge Junction
Auto-fitted ex-SE&CR 0-4-4T in 1958
Down stopping train from Redhill in 1958

Tonbridge railway station is on the South Eastern Main Line in England, serving the town of Tonbridge, Kent. It is 29 miles 46 chains (47.6 km) from London Charing Cross via Sevenoaks and is situated between Hildenborough and Paddock Wood on the main line. Trains calling at the station are operated by Southeastern and Southern.

Tonbridge is at a junction between two important commuter routes: the South Eastern Main Line and the Hastings Line to Tunbridge Wells and Hastings, the South Eastern main line from London to Dover and the Redhill–Tonbridge line. There are four platforms. Platform 4 is a terminating platform.


The South Eastern Railway (SER) first reached Tonbridge (then known as Tunbridge) in May 1842.[2] The site of the original station was on the east side of the road bridge over the railway, opposite its current location to the west of the bridge.[3] The building of the station obliterated the last remains of Tonbridge Priory.[4] At the time, the line ran to London Bridge via Croydon and Redhill using the Brighton Main Line. It served as a temporary terminus until December 1842, when the line reached Ashford. A couple of years later the through line to Dover opened. A small engine shed was built; the date of opening is uncertain but it is presumed to date from the opening of the line. On 20 September 1845, a branch to Tunbridge Wells opened. The station was later renamed Tunbridge Junction. Over the next seven years the branch was extended to Hastings. Access to the line to Hastings was via an indirect link which required a reverse. This arrangement lasted until 1857 when a steeply climbing direct route was opened.[2]

However, being forced to share tracks with its rival, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, as well as competition from the London, Chatham and Dover Railway meant that the SER decided to build a new route from London Bridge, which ran via Chislehurst and Orpington. The cut-off joined the main line at Tonbridge.[5] This prompted a rebuild of the station, and in 1864 it was rebuilt on its current site with four platforms. The original station was demolished in 1865[6] after closure but the entrance gateways are still in situ. The down side entrance is in Vale Road opposite Sainsbury's, and the up side entrance is in Priory Road forming the entrance to the car park.

The cut-off opened in 1868. Soon after, a larger engine shed was built, but still on the opposite side of the bridge to the main part of the station.[7] In May 1893, the station changed its name to Tonbridge Junction, following the change in the town's name to avoid confusion with the larger Tunbridge Wells. At this time, there were two through platforms, two through roads, and two bay platforms at the west end of the station. These bay platforms served the lines to Redhill and Sevenoaks.[8] The indirect line to Tunbridge Wells remained in use until c. 1913, after which it was closed and the track dismantled.[9] By November 1919, the up platform station roof bore the name TONBRIDGE in white letters. This feature was a navigational aid for aircraft of the time.[10]

Under the Southern Railway, the station was renamed Tonbridge in July 1929. It was rebuilt in 1935, with the bay on the south side of the station converted to a through platform.[8] This entailed the construction of a new section of bridge under the road outside the station.[11]

By May 1958, the brick station building fronting the main road had been rebuilt with a tiled facade.[11] The Sevenoaks to Dover line via Tonbridge was electrified in 1961 when the Southern Region improved train frequencies and faster journey times were introduced under British Railways as part of the Kent Coast Electrification.[12] The line south to Tunbridge Wells and Hastings was electrified in 1986 by British Rail,[13] and finally the line to Redhill was electrified in 1993 also by British Rail as part of the Eurostar/Channel Tunnel route improvement works.[citation needed]

Eurostar services ran through Tonbridge station until the first section of the High Speed line was built through Kent, to cut down journey times from London to the Channel Tunnel. The transfer happened on 28 September 2003. The station was refurbished in 2011-2012.[citation needed]

In 2015, the station gained a resident cat, Saffie. The 8-year-old animal needed a new home when her owners moved house. Staff at the station adopted her.[14] Saffie died in March 2018.[15]


Platforms 1 and 2 are an island platform.

  • Platform 1 for Southern trains to/from Redhill and London Victoria (which terminate here from the west) and to/from Maidstone West and Strood (which terminate here from the east). Occasionally trains to Sevenoaks and London use Platform 1.
  • Platform 2 for trains to Sevenoaks and London.

Platform 3 is an island platform, and Platform 4 is a west-facing bay.

  • Platform 3 for all trains via Ashford and Tunbridge Wells
  • Platform 4 for trains to/from London (which terminate here from the west)


As of December 2018 the typical off peak services from this station are:

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Sevenoaks   Southeastern
South Eastern Main Line
  Paddock Wood
Hildenborough   Southeastern
Hastings Line
London to Tunbridge Wells
  High Brooms
Hildenborough   Southeastern
Hastings Line
London to Hastings
  High Brooms
Terminus   Southeastern
Medway Valley Line
  Paddock Wood

Tonbridge yard & sidings[edit]

BR Class 73 in Tonbridge West Yard

There are extensive yards and storage sidings (tracks) on both the east and west sides of the station.

To the east of the station are Tonbridge East Sidings, four sidings and a two-track shed used by Network Rail for maintenance equipment storage and materials delivery. These occupy part of the site of the former engine shed.

Network Rail trains in the sidings, Tonbridge - - 1515533.jpg

Further down the line towards Paddock Wood, there is the now disused Tonbridge Postal Siding. This was opened in 1995 with a new down "slow" line to handle mail and parcels traffic for the nearby Royal Mail sorting office. Its use was short-lived owing to the loss of most mail traffic to road haulage.

To the west, between the Redhill line and the West Yard, the four electrified 'Jubilee' sidings are used to stable trains. The adjacent West Yard, operated by GB Railfreight, has sixteen non-electrified tracks and is now mainly used for stabling engineers' trains. The West Yard was built in 1941 as part of the improvements needed for freight train traffic during World War Two, and is spanned by a long footbridge carrying a public footpath between Douglas Road and Clare Avenue.

Tonbridge Power (signal) Box stands at the eastern entrance to the Jubilee sidings and West Yard. Built in 1962, it is still in limited operational use.[17]

Adjacent to the main London line there are two short electrified sidings (Tonbridge Down Main sidings).



  1. ^ Butt 1995, p. 231.
  2. ^ a b Mitchell & Smith 1987, p. 2.
  3. ^ Neve 1933, p. 126 (facing).
  4. ^ "The Priory". Tonbridge Historical Society. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  5. ^ Jewell 1984, p. 13.
  6. ^ "Tonbridge Timeline".
  7. ^ "Tonbridge".
  8. ^ a b Mitchell & Smith 1987, Figure 1.
  9. ^ Mitchell & Smith 1987, Figure 7.
  10. ^ "Aerial Signposts". Flight (20 November 1919): 1494.
  11. ^ a b Mitchell & Smith 1987, Figure 4.
  12. ^ Southern Electric Group Feature Kent Coast Electrification Scheme - "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 December 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Per this souvenir ticket from the first day of electric services 1066 ticket front.jpg (click to view).
  14. ^ Rusbridge-Thomas, Annabel (22 June 2015). "Tonbridge station cat Sapphie stars in Southeastern video". Kent Messenger. Kent Online. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  15. ^ @Se_railway (9 March 2018). "Tweet" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ a b "Network Rail Timetable May 2011: Table 206" (PDF).
  17. ^[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Impact of scour and flood risk on railway structures" (PDF). Rail Safety and Standards Board. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2006. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  19. ^ Chapman 2009.


  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-508-1.
  • Chapman, Frank (6 March 2009). "Rail crash publicity huge as quick thinking saves King and Queen". Kent and Sussex Courier. Courier Group Newspapers.
  • Jewell, Brian (1984). Down the line to Hastings. Southborough: The Baton Press. ISBN 0-85936-223-X.
  • Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (1987). Tonbridge to Hastings. Easebourne: Middleton Press. ISBN 0-906520-44-4.
  • Neve, Arthur (1933). The Tonbridge of Yesterday. The Tonbridge Free Press. p. facing page 126.

External links[edit]