Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Sheerness review 1


4/8/07 Sittingbourne to Sheerness

Dept: Sittingbourne 13.05 Arrive Sheerness: 

Traction: 3 car Class EMU

Weather: Hot and sunny

TOC: South Eastern


The train leave from platform 3 of Sittingbourne station, which is a single platform and a two-platform island. As we set off in a westerly direction, we pass an old shed on the right, which is empty and overgrown. Presumably this is where the Sheerness units are kept overnight? We stay on the main line for about ½ a mile before moving off to the north on the branch line. We are then joined by a double-track curve on the left, used by freight coming from the west. We pass lots of new housing on the left and speed up to about 60 mph. We are soon out of Sittingbourne and into the countryside, passing wheat fields that have already been harvested. We soon arrive at Kemsley station, where another 2-car unit is waiting on the other platform. The station has two bus stop shelters and the platforms seem quite overgrown for a newish station. We then go under the new A249 which was built to ease the traffic on the old bridge. The land becomes quite flat now as we near the water, which separates the isle of Sheppey from the mainland. We pull into Swale station, which seems to be in the middle of nowhere, yet is right underneath a new flyover which takes the new road onto the island. We then go onto a single track as we cross the stretch of water called the Swale, which separates the island from the mainland. It is on a raised bridge built in 1959, with the original road on our left. You can see the cranes in the distance in Sheerness docks as we go over marshland. A flock of wild geese are resting by the riverside next to a group of cattle. We speed up again as we pass yards full of imported cars. There's some old sidings on the left as we come into Queenborough station, which has two platforms for the trains to cross. The thing I notice are the blue painted security rails, with little else to see. About 10 people get on. We go onto single track again and pass more sidings on the left, going to Queenborough power Station. We speed up again as we pass several factories on our right, as a single track joins us from the left.  We then slow down as we move slowly into Sheerness station, which has two platforms. The second one looks like it isn't used that much. The station is neat and well maintained. There is a short 3-minute change round for the guard and driver, before we move out again and go back to Sittingbourne.

Summary: A little used branch line, which creates a valuable link for the islanders of Sheppey with the mainland.  MC