|Tracks running into the station|
|Owned by||Network Rail|
|Platforms in use||2 (1 in use)|
and station information
from National Rail
|2001||Station closed to regular traffic|
|2009||Line closure procedures instigated|
|National Rail - UK railway stations|
|A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z|
Folkestone Harbour station is a railway station built to serve the port of Folkestone in Kent, and is one of three stations in the town. It is at the end of the short 1-in-30 Folkestone Harbour Branch Line, joining the South Eastern Main Line at Folkestone Junction. The branch and harbour station provided a rail connection for boat trains from London which connected with the ferry services to Calais and Boulogne.
The branch and station closed to regular passenger train services in 2001 although the line and station continued to be used by the Venice-Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) and railtours. As of March 2009 Network Rail intend to close the branch, and an association has formed to preserve it as a heritage line.
A branch line was built in 1844 leaving the main line at Folkestone Junction and was double tracked ending with a viaduct across the harbour itself. In 1847 a swing bridge allowed the line to reach the southern pier and in 1848 the line was passed by the Board of Trade for passenger use. The line was electrified at the same time as the main line during the "Kent Coast Electrification - Stage 2" in June 1961, and passenger trains were formed of Electric multiple units. Freight services were withdrawn on 17 August 1968.
In 1994, the opening of the Channel Tunnel led to the majority of ferry operators moving to other ports in the South East, with the result that only two services per day were arriving at Folkestone Harbour, to connect with the Hoverspeed SeaCat services. When these were moved to Ramsgate, Folkestone Harbour the station closed to ordinary rail traffic in 2001.
Sometime after 2001 the line was singled.
The branch is short but sharply inclined meaning that steam engines had to be banked. For most of its life its main traffic was freight, with passengers travelling on boat trains direct to London.
Until 2009 Venice Simplon Orient Express operated two scheduled services per week to Folkestone Harbour on its London to Paris route, which ran on Thursdays and Sunday between March and November when the British Pullman service terminated there. Passengers were transferred by coach to the Eurotunnel terminal, where they joined a Eurotunnel Shuttle to Calais to pick up the Orient Express in France.
Folkestone Harbour station is located at the end of a viaduct which separates the port's inner and outer harbours, which in turn is the end of the spur railway separate from the main line. The proposals for the regeneration of the Harbour area will see additional accommodation built; however, it has been determined that this will not be sufficient to justify reopening the rail link to the Harbour. Due to its infrequent use it has been proposed that Folkestone Harbour be closed permanently, the viaduct demolished, and the track on the rail spur lifted.
On 12 April 2008, a closure ceremony, together with an official last train took place. However, objections had been raised by English, Welsh and Scottish Railway, Department for transport and Southeastern. During 2008 VSOE still used Folkestone Harbour with its last train travelling on 13 November, and a number of rail tours visited the branch. Advertised as the last train, a steam hauled rail tour visited the branch on 14 March 2009.
Reliant on closure of the line, a proposed Folkestone Harbour and Seafront Masterplan included plans to demolish the viaduct to make way for a new marina. An association opposing the closure was formed, with the primary aim of gaining control of the branch either through purchase or a lease with an option to buy. The group, called the Remembrance Line Association proposes turning it into a mainline connected heritage railway, a 'Leaving for War' museum and a memorial dedicated to the troops that arrived on trains to the branch and left on ships to fight in both World War I and World War II. It also proposes hosting regular national railtours to the branch, and would permanently operate a tourist shuttle service up and down the 1in30 gradient,utilising its own rolling stock and locomotives. Further plans include a revived passenger ferry to Boulogne. On Sunday 21 December 2008 the Remembrance Line Association ran a railtour to the branch using the Southern Railway preseved diesel electric Class 201 No. 1001.
On 20 March 2009 Network Rail announced they had begun the formal process to close the line and station on cost grounds, having redeveloped Folkestone West with new waiting facilities for the VSOE passengers.