Ashford and Kent rail passengers are advised to plan ahead and check before they travel over Christmas 2019, especially if travelling on Friday 27 December, as Network Rail works to improve the railway as part of record investment plans for the Kent network. 

From Thursday 26 December – Sunday 29 December 2019, as well as a number of weekends before and after, Network Rail will replace track and three sets of old switches and crossings, the moveable rails which allow trains to switch tracks, at Ashford International station.  Track drainage will be improved, helping to maintain track quality and reduce delays from track faults well into the future. The third rail, where train draw power and points, the mechanical equipment that moves switches and crossings, will also be upgraded to improve reliability. 

On the following dates Southeastern Highspeed and Eurostar services will not stop at Ashford. Mainline services will run but some services will be subject to change:

  • Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 November 2019
  • Thursday 26 – Sunday 29 December 2019 – including one ordinary working day
  • Saturday 4 – Sunday 5 January 2020
  • Saturday 11 – Sunday 12 January 2020
  • Sunday 19 January 2020.

Shaun King, Interim Kent Route Director at Network Rail, said:

“We know that the most important thing for passengers is for them to get to where they need to be ontime. Over the next five years we’re doing more work to improve reliability on the Kent network than ever before, addressing decades of underinvestment in the region’s railway. 

“This work to install new track, drainage and switches and crossings at Ashford will give passengers using this section of railway smoother, more reliable journeys with fewer delays for decades to come.

“I’d to thank passengers for their patience while we work and remind them to check with their journeys before travelling.  The railway remains open but there will be changes so don’t get caught”.

Ellie Burrows, Train Services Director at Southeastern, said:

“This is a major investment and once complete this work will improve reliability of services for our passengers who use this busy route.

“We recognise that it will have an impact on train services at Ashford International. We will ensure passengers are aware of the changes and the alternative transport arrangements which will be put in place.

“If you are a Highspeed season ticket holder and you travel via Ashford International on Friday 27 December, you can claim for a refund of the Highspeed premium portion of your ticket.”

During this work there will be no Southeastern Highspeed services between Canterbury West, Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International.

Passengers who would normally travel to London St Pancras via Ashford should use mainline services, which will take around 45 minutes longer than the usual Highspeed trains. Journeys can be re-planned on the Southeastern website and National Rail Enquiries, with more information on the planned work also available on the Southeastern website.

A rail replacement bus service will operate between Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International, and Ashford International and Canterbury West.

Highspeed season ticket holders travelling via Ashford International on Friday 27 December can claim for a refund of the Highspeed premium portion of their ticket on Southeastern's website from that date.