|East Kent Railway (heritage)|
|Built by||Colonel Stephens|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Owned by||East Kent Railway Trust|
|Operated by||East Kent Railway Trust|
|Length||2.4 miles (3.9 km)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
East Kent Light Railway
The East Kent Railway (EKR) is a heritage railway in Kent, England. It is located at Shepherdswell station on the London to Dover Priory direct mainline. The line was constructed between 1911 and 1917 to serve the Kent Coalfields. See East Kent Light Railway for details of the original lines. The Kent Collieries were mostly a failure with only Tilmanstone on the line producing any viable commercial coal and commercial traffic over the line. The line is operated by heritage diesel locomotives. It is home to a collection of heritage diesel locomotives, Diesel Multiple Units DMU, DEMU and an electric multiple units including an in service British Rail Class 404 built in the 1930s.
At Shepherdswell, there is a cafe, a large 15-acre (6.1 ha) woodland area with walking routes, a 5 in (127 mm) gauge miniature railway, a 7+1⁄4 in (184 mm) gauge woodland miniature railway, a model railway and a small museum.
At Eythorne, there is a small cafe in a General Utility Van built by BR that used to carry elephants. The old Selling Signal Box is also here with a history of the East Kent Railway both past and present inside. Eythorne Station plays host to a variety of features on special event days.
The railway holds special events throughout the year, ranging from railway enthusiast events to beer festivals along with family fun weekends.
On the line there is Golgotha Tunnel (situated between Shepherdswell and Eythorne), 477 yards (436 m) long, making it the eighth longest tunnel on a UK Heritage Railway in Preservation. The tunnel was built in typical Colonel Stephens style by building double track portals but only excavating a single track internally to save money.
There is also a wide variety of wagons at Shepherdswell.
A preservation group was formed in 1987 to preserve part of the abandoned line as far as the old coal mine at Tilmanstone. By 1989 a majority of the lineside vegetation had been cleared and by 1995 the first heritage train was run.
Following the reopening of the railway, a new platform was constructed on the site of the former equivalent at Eythorne and the former signalbox from Selling was moved to the northern end of the platform in the mid 1990s. The railway also owns the Barham Signal Box from the closed Elham Valley Line which houses a detailed mural painting of the old East Kent Railway route, this can be found at Shepherdswell.
The EKR operates on most Sundays and Bank Holidays between April and September and selected Saturdays in mid summer.
The EKR also owns an extensive ancient woodland known as "The Knees". The railway uses The Knees as an educational resource, woodland walks - the bluebells in spring are a popular attraction and for special events such as halloween.
The railway hosts other groups, including the Southern Electric Group, EKR Trolleybus Group and the 427 Locomotive Group and recently the Network SouthEast Railway Society as they have moved their Museum Container.
The railway hosts two apprenticeship schemes for Permanent Way and Civil Engineering training.