South East England
|Type||Suburban rail, Heavy rail|
|Rolling stock||Class 375|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||75 mph (121 km/h)|
Mileage measured from London Victoria
The Sheerness line is located in Kent, England, and connects Sheerness-on-Sea on the Isle of Sheppey with Sittingbourne on the mainland, and with the Chatham Main Line for trains towards London, Ramsgate or Dover Priory. It opened on 19 July 1860.
The Sheerness branch line opened on 19 July 1860, from Sittingbourne to, at first, a station in the Blue Town area of Sheerness, close to the southern edge of the Royal Navy dockyard. In 1883 a further station was added at Sheerness-on-Sea, accessed by a reversing curve from the original station, which was renamed Sheerness Dockyard. At this time, all trains had to run first to the Dockyard station, then reverse (after the engine had changed ends) to Sheerness-on-Sea, and vice versa for the return journey. The original line was built by the independent Sittingbourne and Sheerness Railway company, and taken over by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway (LC&DR) in 1876. After 1899, it was run by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway, formed by the working union of the LC&DR with the South Eastern Railway.
In 1902 the so-called Navy Tram Road was constructed from the Dockyard station into HM Dockyard for the transfer of good wagons. In 1922 a direct line to Sheerness-on-Sea station was built, bypassing the older station, from which date all passenger trains ran to the newer station, and the Dockyard station was used only by goods trains. Sheerness-on-Sea station remains open, but the Dockyard station was closed to all traffic in about 1968. Its site is now occupied by sidings serving Sheerness Steel, but the former Navy Tram Road still exists. The Royal Navy dockyard closed in 1961, but the rail link was kept in the belief it would continue to serve the new commercial docks on the former Navy site.
The line was electrified by British Railways on 15 June 1959 as part of the "Kent Coast electrification" in the 1955 Modernisation Plan.
Train services on the line are operated by Southeastern. From December 2019, 3 car Class 375/3 Electrostars have operated on the line, replacing 2 car Class 466 units.
Main article: Sheppey Light Railway
There was a branch line from Queenborough to Leysdown, opened in 1901 and closed 1950 - see the Sheppey Light Railway.