A new railway station for Rochester is the highlight of a recently published Network Rail document detailing upgrades to the Kent rail system. The £26M station will be on a new site 500 metres down the line on the Corporation Street car park. Network Rail’s proposal for a new station at Rochester is the latest chapter in the somewhat complicated tale of the railways serving the old city.
Bob Ratcliffe, President of the City of Rochester Society and railway buff gives us a summary of the story.
Back in August 1860 the Board of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, having opened their line from Strood to Canterbury in 1858, were discussing the ‘immediate need’ for a station at Free School Lane (now Corporation Street). By the following October it had decided not to provide a station in Rochester at all, but to rely on one at the Strood end of the bridge at the start of their ‘London Extension’. Named variously Rochester, Rochester and Strood, and Rochester Bridge, this station opened in December 1860, was rebuilt after a fire in 1908,and was closed as a war economy measure in 1917, though the buildings were not demolished until 1968.
Rochester itself was to be without a station of its own until 1892, when it gained three! Two were on the new Chatham Central branch of the rival South Eastern Railway, one of which was Rochester Common (accessed from Gas House Road), and the other at the terminal of the branch which rejoiced in the name of Chatham Central though it was located in the east end of Rochester on the site of the 2012 flats at the Riverside Doust Way development. Not to be outdone, the LCDR opened their own Rochester Banks (later Rochester Main Line and now simply Rochester) on the site of the present station, though it only had two platforms until widening in 1911 added a further two. That year also saw the closure of the SER’s branch and the loss of that company’s stations at Rochester Common and Chatham Central after only nineteen years of life.
Today’ proposed re-location of Rochester Station will make use of some of the Riverside Regeneration land and will allow for longer platforms to accommodate twelve-car trains – the present platforms can only cater for ten coaches. There will also be space for improved interchange facilities and car parking. It will also offer considerable potential for the Train Operating Companies to offer improved time tables.
Network Rail’s proposal has been met with universal support. Rochester & Strood MP Mark Reckless has welcomed the move as has the Very Reverend Mark Beach, Dean of Rochester Cathedral. Godfrey George, chairman of the Rochester Association of Businesses believes a more central station will be better for business and here at the City of Rochester Society, we think it’s brilliant news for Rochester and should give the city the rail station it deserves.
Here’s a link to the full Network Rail plan http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/News-Releases/7278/Network-Rail-sets-out-plans-for-a-better-railway-in-the-south-east-of-England