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North Kent Line
466028 Passing Milton Range.jpg
OwnerNetwork Rail
LocaleGreater London
South East England
TypeCommuter rail, Suburban rail
SystemNational Rail
Depot(s)Slade Green
Grove Park
Rolling stockClass 375 "Electrostar"
Class 376 "Electrostar"
Class 395 "Javelin"
Class 465 "Networker"
Class 466 "Networker"
Class 700 "Desiro City"
Number of tracks2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC third rail
Operating speed70 mph (110 km/h)
Route map
North Kent Line.png

(Click to expand)

The North Kent Line[1][2] is a railway line which branches off the South East Main Line at St Johns junction west of Lewisham station in Greater London and runs to Rochester Bridge Junction near Strood, Medway where it links to the Chatham Main Line.

The section from Charlton to Dartford is also referred to as the "Woolwich Line" in the context of Southeastern Metro services.



The North Kent Line was the means by which the South Eastern Railway (SER) was able to connect its system to London at London Bridge. In 1846 the SER purchased the Thames and Medway Canal tunnel near Higham and laid railway tracks through it; in 1847 trains were working through from the Strood terminus, on the River Medway to Gravesend. From 30 July 1849 the line was extended, via Blackheath, to a junction with the London and Greenwich Railway at North Kent East Junction, near Deptford, and through trains were now able to operate.


The line is electrified (750 V DC third rail). Electrification was initially to Dartford (6 June 1926) and was extended to Gillingham by World War Two.

Former services

From 1999 until 2002, there were semi-fast trains running from Plumstead to London Victoria, temporarily resuming a 1980s service pattern. This service was for the Millennium Dome; trains called at Woolwich Arsenal, Charlton, Blackheath, Lewisham, Peckham Rye, then ran non-stop to London Victoria. There was also an early morning semi-fast service to London Blackfriars from Dartford in the 1980s.

In 2003, there were plans to run a Plumstead to Clapham Junction service across South London which had never came to fruition.

Until May 2018, there were regular semi-fast services to Gillingham (Kent) from London Charing Cross via Lewisham (for DLR) and Woolwich Arsenal (for DLR) operated by Southeastern calling at Waterloo East, London Bridge then non-stop to Lewisham (for DLR), Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal (for DLR), Abbey Wood (for Elizabeth line), Dartford, Greenhithe (for Bluewater), Gravesend and then all stations to Gillingham (Kent). Since then, these services were replaced by the new Thameslink services from Luton calling at all but some stations to Rainham (Kent).


The line diverges from the Southeastern Main Line at Lewisham Vale junction[3][4] at the country end of St John's station at the edge of Inner London, and runs as far as Rochester Bridge junction[5][6] beside the River Medway by the north coast of historic mid-Kent.


The North Kent Line is a high-frequency line, with all stations in the London area being served by at least 4 trains per hour, with Lewisham having 14tph.

London Charing Cross to Dartford 2tph, calling at Waterloo East, London Bridge fast to Lewisham (for DLR), Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal (for DLR), Plumstead, Abbey Wood (for the Elizabeth Line) Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green and Dartford.

London Cannon Street to Slade Green all stations via Greenwich 4tph, of which 2tph continue back to Cannon Street via Bexleyheath and Lewisham on the Bexleyheath line and 2tph to Cannon Street via Sidcup and Hither Green on the Dartford Loop Line.

Luton to Rainham 2tph, Semi Fast calling all stations to West Hampstead Thameslink, St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich (for DLR), Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal (for DLR), Plumstead, Abbey Wood (for the Elizabeth Line), Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe (for Bluewater), Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend and all stations to Rainham.

Service patterns

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (May 2019)

As of May 2019, the service pattern is:

Off-peak & Saturday:


Peak hour frequencies vary, with services from the Bexleyheath and Dartford loop lines also running to and from stations to Gillingham.


Abbey Wood station has been rebuilt to become the eastern terminus of the Elizabeth Line. However, a possible extension of the Elizabeth line to Gravesend has been safeguarded.


Slade Green station
Slade Green station

Train services working the Line today take the following route; the first ten miles (16 km) passes through many tunnels, included on the list:

The North Kent Line connects with the LCDR Chatham Main Line at Rochester Bridge Junction, about 200 m beyond Strood station. It totals some 30 miles (48 km) in length.


  1. ^ Quail Maps. Map#5 - Southern & TFL. Vol. [page 5] Feb 1998 (Retrieved 2018-01-14).
  2. ^ "KSW2 Kent Sussex Wessex Routes Sectional Appendix; LOR SO290 Seq003 to 009" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  3. ^ Quail Map 5 – England South [page 7] Sept 2002 (Retrieved 25 December 2011)
  4. ^ Network Rail (April 2001). Southern Zone Sectional Appendix. Vol. Module SO. p. 1/15 SO130. (Retrieved 25 December 2011)
  5. ^ Quail Map 5 – England South [page 3] Sept 2002 (Retrieved 25 December 2011)
  6. ^ Network Rail (April 2001). Southern Zone Sectional Appendix. Vol. Module SO. p. 1/37 SO130. (Retrieved 25 December 2011)