On Saturday 15th December, the 13:28 train from Maidstone West had some very famous visitors on board. Over 80 people boarded the train to meet Santa and his wife. There were plenty of activities to do throughout the two hour trip and a fantastic balloon modeller and face painter on board. Spiderman also made an unexpected appearance to entertain the excited children and parents.

This was the first Santa Train event that Kent CRP have hosted and they would like to thank the following people for all the support:

Councillors Keith Adkinson and Paul Turner from the Fant Ward who provided funding towards the event.
Southeastern for providing an extra carriage and then donating all the train fares to the Railway Children Chariety.
The Potted Garden for providing a Christmas Tree.
Spiderman, Zoe the Balloon Modeller and Summer the Face Painter.
Santa, his wife and all the fantastic volunteers and Elves for helping with the event.


On Thursday 29th November, commuters at Tonbridge Station were in for a pleasant surprise. As they boarded and alighted from the trains, they were greeted by 10 students from Five Acre Wood School, full of festive cheer and singing Christmas songs.
The students also had the opportunity to see behind the scenes at Tonbridge Station and see the security cameras in action.
Kent CRP are working with Five Acre Wood on a project at Snodland Station and this was additional opportunity to provide some valuable train travel training for the students.
Thank you to Tonbridge Station and all the staff involved in hosting the event and welcoming the students and teachers. Also thank you to the generous commuters who provided support and donated some money towards the new hydrotherapy pool the school are fund raising for. We would also like to thank the teachers at Five Acre Wood for organising the performance and giving their time to the event.
Here are a couple of photos from the event and well done to all the students involved, the singing and atmosphere created was fantastic.


Did you have chance to see the wonderful Sea Folk Sing Choir this weekend on your travels? If not or you would like to relive some of the moments again then please click here or on our newly created page that has just been added to our website.

On Sunday 11th November, to help commemorate the one hundreth anniversary of the end of World War One, Kent CRP organised a choir to sing on the Swail Rail Line from Sittingbourne to Sheerness on Sea.

Never Again by Kent composer Emily Peasgood was sung by Sea Folk Sing, 30 local singers who formed a community choir. They performed on the train platform at Sittingbourne, on the train travelling to Queenborough, on the bridge at Queenborough station and on the return train journey from Sheerness to Sittingbourne.  The music was heard by over 200 audience members and passengers as they went about their Sun afternoon journeys.

Composer Emily Peasgood says:
“Never Again is a thought-provoking piece. It transforms the audience to 100 years ago. It features tape recordings from the First World War to create an experience for visitors, while drawing parallels with the political climate today.”


On Saturday 10th November, Strood Station hosted our first choir event of the weekend. Never Again by Kent composer Emily Peasgood was sung by Sea Folk Sing, 30 local singers who formed a community choir. They performed on the train platform and in the underpass to Station Road. The music was heard by over 200 passengers as they went about their Sat afternoon journeys. The event was to help commemorate the one hundreth anniversary of the end of World War One.
Composer Emily Peasgood says:
“Never Again is a thought-provoking piece. It transforms the audience to 100 years ago. It features tape recordings from the First World War to create an experience for visitors, while drawing parallels with the political climate today.”

On a cold Sunday in October, a  group of willing volunteers braved the elements and planted over 3,500 crocus bulbs in support of World Polio Day 2018. The volunteers included those from the Maidstone Dawn Patrol and the Maidstone Riverside Rotary Club repectively. The purple crocus has become a symbol of the Rotary’s fight to end polio, as the colour purple represents the colour of the dye placed on a child’s finger to show they have been immunised against the disease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match Rotary’s commitment 2:1 so every £1 raised becomes £3.

We all look forward to seeing a blanket of purple crocuses adorning Maidstone Barracks in the spring time and helping to raise awareness for the eradication of Polio.


Kent CRP are delighted to announce that they were awarded The Community Art Scheme Award at the recent ACoRP Awards ceromony in Glasgow.The award was in recognition of the wonderful work that Bradfields Academy did in partnership with the British Transport Police, to raise awareness of the text 61016 campaign.

Come and listen to ‘Sea Folk Sing’ will be travelling along the Swale Rail line from Sittingbourne to Sheerness singing a specially composed piece in celebration of reconciliation.
They will be performing a 20 minute rendition at Sittingbourne Station just after 1pm.
They will then board the 13:34 train to Queenborough and will then perform at Queenborough Station at around 1:50pm.

We look forward to meeting you all to help mark this celebration with us.

To book free tickts for this event please click here.

Children visited Santa and enjoyed craft activities at Kent Community Rail Partnership’s (KCRP) ‘Visit Santa’ event at Maidstone West Railway Station on Saturday 16 December.

The event was attended by over 100 children who were able to undertake craft activities and listen to St. Michael’s primary school choir in the ticket office before visiting Santa in his grotto on platform 2.

This very positive event allowed KCRP Officers to discuss and encourage greater walking, cycling and train use along the Medway Valley and Swale Rail Lines with the attendees.

This was a free event and over £150 was raised for Railway Children.  Railway Children is an international children’s charity working with street children in the UK and abroad.

Over thirty walkers joined us on our annual Medway Valley Rail Trail Walk on Sun 19 Nov from Strood Station.  We left at 10am on a cool but bright morning for the 4.7mile/7.5km circular walk.  The walk took us along the edge of the River Medway, past historic landmarks and through pockets of stunning countryside nestled in the suburbs of Strood.  Graeme Jenkins from the Medway Ramblers led the walk.

You can download a copy of the walk details here



ReCYCLE is a Bicycle Recycling Programme run by Cycle Community CIC a Community Interest Company based in Ashford, Kent.

They operate an outreach programme ReCYCLE Kent which enables them to share the benefits of their programme to communities across Kent.

Pick up your Affordable Refurbished Bicycle at their next Bike Sale Event


A packed train of 108 witches and wizards left Maidstone West Station on Friday 27th October for the ride of their life on the Medway Valley Ghost Train. Brave souls took part in face painting, balloon modelling and the really brave put their hand in goo to find the spider!

This was all to support the charity The Railway Children – an international children‘s charity working with street children in India, East Africa and the UK. They fight for vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets, where they suffer abuse and exploitation.

The event was organised by the Kent Community Rail Partnership and supported by the Rosters team at Southeastern, headed by Emma Irons and raised £58.42 for the Railway Children.

Funding for the activities was kindly donated by KCC members Rob Bird, Dan Daley & Paulina Stockell.

Sue Murray, Chair of Kent Community Rail Partnership said:

“The Ghost Train event was such a happy one.  I thought all were dressed for the occasion and some of the children’s outfits were quite amazing!”

Marie Northfield, Area Manager Ashford, Southeastern said:

“It was a really successful event. Great job, and thank you to everyone who found time to leave their day jobs to come and help.”

On Thursday 5 October, Swale Rail Community Rail Partnership, Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne and Kent Community Rail Partnership celebrated first place for ‘Ambulance Train’ event for best community engagement event at the National Community Rail Awards 2017 at Derby Roundhouse.


This was a hugely ambitious, extremely successful event involving 21 local Community Groups, during the remembrance period in November 2016, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Ambulance Trains which departed Kent in WW1.  Highly interactive, with events at 7 locations and involving a dedicated “Poppy-branded” Javelin High Speed train to transport public and re-enactors between locations, used for the first time on SwaleRail. Nearly a year in the planning, the event demonstrated the best in teamwork by a wide range of volunteers, supported by Kent CRP, HRGS and led by the indomitable Linda Brinklow, Chair of SwaleRail Community Rail Partnership.

 The awards, which are now in their 13th year, recognise the important but often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships and station adoption groups, amongst others, who provide a welcome social and economic contribution, with their activities, to their communities.

On Thursday 5 October, Southeastern & partners celebrated second place for ‘Snodland Station’ event for most enhanced station buildings & surroundings at the National Community Rail Awards 2017 at Derby Roundhouse.

Snodland Station is a grade 2 listed building built in 1856 and has been refurbished to cater for the growing number of passengers using the station since the introduction of high speed services 5 years ago.  Coinciding with 160 years of the station the refurbishment created a transport interchange, an extended car park and saw the ticket office re-open for the first time since 1986 providing passengers with a brighter and more accessible station with re-instated period features.  This success of this project was its early liaison and ongoing communication and cooperation between Southeastern and a wide variety of partners.

The awards, which are now in their 13th year, recognise the important but often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships and station adoption groups, amongst others, who provide a welcome social and economic contribution, with their activities, to their communities.

 David Wornham, Passenger Services Director Southeastern

‘Stations are a part of our community and Snodland has gone from strength to strength serving  the demands of the local area and business, this recognition is great credit to everyone involved who has transformed Snodland into the vibrant transport hub we see today’

Sue Murray, Chair of Kent Community Rail Partnership

“The ACORP Gala Awards Night was a wonderful celebration of all things Community Rail and to receive acknowledgement for ourselves and our partners as runners up with the refurbishment of Snodland Station and its environment was just the icing on the cake.”

A shortlist of three bidders has  been announced to compete to run the new South Eastern franchise, which is due to start in December 2018. They are:

  • Abellio (joint venture between Abellio and the consortium of East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui)
  • Govia
  • Stagecoach

Kent Community Rail Partnership have produced a “wish list” for the bidders to consider and the list can be found here  Franchise Renewal – Kent CRP comments_Final

The list voices our aspirations and at this point it is not known what can be achieved. We are working closely with the bidders to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for our lines. Further updates will be published as we receive them.


The trail is a free, family friendly, self-guided walk along ‘Watling Street’, an important Roman road, which runs through the historic heart of Sittingbourne. Many travellers have visited Sittingbourne over the centuries, including royalty. Today, many of the buildings that were used by them are still there, you just have to look up above the modern shop fronts, or down the side alleys at the backs of the buildings, to see them as they once were.

A leaflet will encourage walkers to discover the history of some of the main buildings, by finding pictures of 15 cats, which are displayed in the participating outlets’ windows. The cat connection comes from the story of Florence and Thomas Gisby, who lived in Cockleshell Walk in Sittingbourne around a hundred years ago. They owned cats, which roamed the town, and each cat had a favourite place to sit. Photos of the Trail’s cats now sit in the windows around the town. Walkers are encouraged to find them all and collect a sticker from Baileys Coffee Shop.

The ‘Historic Sittingbourne’s Cat Trail’ is available from The Heritage Hub, Baileys Coffee Shop and other participating businesses. The launch on 8th July will help promote the leaflet, and to let the wider community know about the town trail. The launch coincides with the town’s Artisan Market and additional stands will be found in the town, including the Cat’s Protection League and Sittingbourne Retail Association. The Forum Shopping Centre will be having a free craft table for children to be involved it ‘cat creative ideas’.

Participating venues are:
The Heritage Hub, Bengal Spice Restaurant, Hawkesford James Estate Agents, The Baptist Church, Bairstow Eves Estate Agents, Sittingbourne Library, Wishes Hairdressers, Popes Optician, Reaching People Though Music, Front Row Hairdressers at The New Century Cinema, Joe’s Men’s Hairdressers, The Old Forge War Time House, Sittingbourne Heritage Museum, St. Michael’s Church, and Baileys Coffee Shop are participating in the Trail.

The walk will take around half an hour, but will depend how quickly someone walks and how closely they want to look at the architecture.

Historic Cat Trail leaflet – website

Archived News

Father Christmas and his Elves look forward to welcoming you at 12:45 at Maidstone West Station on 15th December for our 2 hour train ride.

Tickets are now available to purchase. Adults are priced at £10 and children £1. To purchase your tickets just click Eventbrite.Book now to avoid disappointment as numbers are limited.

Kent Community Rail Partnership has submitted its response to the Department for Transport (DfT) consultation about the renewal of the Rail Franchise for the south east of England, which is due take place in December 2018.  You can download a copy of the document here. 

If you would like to respond yourself to the consultation you can do so until the 30th June 2017 by following this link to the DfT website.


We are holding a couple of public consultation meetings to enable us to prepare for the forthcoming South East England Rail Franchise renewal exercise.

You are all very welcome to join us at either or indeed both of the meetings

Timings are as follows:

  • Medway Valley Line: Tuesday 7th June at 6:45pm to 8:15pm: Public meeting at The Bull Inn, Lower Road, East Farleigh, ME15 0HD
  • SwaleRail Line. Wednesday 8th June at 2pm to 3:30pm. Castle Connections, Queenborough, ME11 5AY

Hope to see you there.

Our Spring Newsletter is now available on the Medway Valley and SwaleRail Line pages for download.  It features pictures and articles about recent events details of our plans for the coming months.  You can also download it by clicking on the following link:  Spring 2016

Printed copies will be distributed to manned stations, libraries etc… over the next couple of weeks.


The latest Great British Railway Journeys programme features Ashford to Sevenoaks and includes a visit to the Hitachi Javelin maintenance depot at Ashford.  You can watch it on BBC iPlayer at the following web address (or on your TV/smartphone etc…):

Unfortunately Mr Portillo misses out the 2 best destinations on the line, Paddock Wood and Tonbridge, but interesting nonetheless!

Tonbridge station is now officially part of the Medway Valley Line bringing the delights of the Rail Partnership to a whole new set of potential users and supporters at Kent’s busiest railway station!  Approval was granted by the Department for Transport who launched a formal consultation which generated a lot of positive support for the idea.

We are holding events in Tonbridge in 2016 to promote the Medway Valley Line and the Partnership.  More details to follow.