Canterbury and the East Kent Railway

DSC07539The East Kent Railway is home to one of the largest collections of preserved multiple units in the country, despite its short length, and this made it a top priority to visit.

Sadly, it’s not easily reached from north of London, and my journey there on the last weekend of March involved a transit from Euston to Charing Cross, before catching the affordable but slower service from there to Canterbury and then on to Shepherdswell. Engineering works between Gravesend and Sittingbourne did nothing to help the journey.

Thankfully, the visit more than rewarded my patience. The line was holding its Easter Weekend event, and the two-car Class 101 and 108 hybrid DMU was packed full on every departure (see my video here). Passing up the incredibly crowded first service, I decided instead to take a look around the site at Eythorne, finding to my pleasure a Bradford trolleybus, units of classes 404, 416, 205, 419 and more, as well as a couple of small steam and diesel locomotives.

The ride along the short line was quick but enjoyable, and the tunnel midway along the route certainly allowed the classic first generation DMU engine sound to reverberate as the unit applied power on the climb towards Eythorne. The station there is a small affair, but the village and surrounding Kent countryside are well worth exploring.

All in all this was a very rewarding day, and the EKR certainly delivers a lot of value for such a short line. I would however advise any visitors to avoid the event weekends and instead visit on a regular running day. The line just doesn’t have the capacity for large crowds!

The full trip gallery is here.