Tenterden - Northiam - Bodiam
Kent & East Sussex Railway

Travel Back in Time

The Kent & East Sussex Railway is a renowned heritage railway based in Tenterden, Kent, UK. Built by Holman F Stephens, it was the first light passenger railway in Britain in the early 20th century and is today one of Britain’s most loved and original heritage lines which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of reopening in 2024. With a rich history spanning over 120 years, the K&ESR offers visitors an authentic steam and diesel-powered railway experience through 10½ miles of Wealden countryside in the beautiful Rother Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, the railway prides itself on preserving railway heritage, operating a diverse range of locomotives, and providing a unique glimpse into the golden age of rail travel.

A fine example of one of England’s light railways and originally part of a larger system which operated between Headcorn and Robertsbridge. The K&ESR was the very first 'light railway' to be constructed: light railways are equipped with full size trains, but have steep gradients and operate at low speed.

Passenger trains ran from 1900 until 1954 but an ambitious scheme to reopen the railway from Tenterden was proposed, although it was not until 1974 that the first trains were able to run on a short section of line.  The registered charity that now owns and operates the line was able to finally restore services to Bodiam in time for the centenary of the line in 2000: today the K&ESR welcomes around 90,000 people each year.


Steam & Diesel Trains

The journey time between Tenterden and Bodiam takes around 50 minutes each way.

Some of our trains include carriages with old-fashioned family compartments - perfect if you prefer your own personal space. The Ticket Inspector will be pleased to advise availability on your train - there's a small supplement for travel in First Class accommodation.





Book Online & Save

Get best value when you book in advance online - tickets are discounted online and normally available until midnight on the day before your visit, but as accommodation is limited, don't leave it too late! Well behaved dogs go free in Standard Class accommodation, but must remain on the floor, not on seats or tables.

Make the most of your visit

The Kent & East Sussex Railway is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and follows the wide unspoilt Rother Valley for much of the journey. Tenterden Town Station is the starting point for many of our visitors, but wherever you choose to board, you can be assured of a warm welcome!

Our small rural stations are typical of light-railways of the period, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to see or do! Almost all our staff are volunteers and we're always pleased to help you get the most from your visit, including:

  • The award-winning Railway Museum, where you can discover more about Colonel Stephens, the entrepreneur who built and operated the railway, is an absolute must. Located near the car park at Tenterden Town Station, the museum is open when trains are operating and entry is free.
  • Find out more about the fascinating story of how the K&ESR was preserved in an informative display in the Model Railway Room at Tenterden. Kids will love the model railway too - collect a token from the booking office.
  • Enjoy light refreshments in a unique station setting - or take them on board the train as you travel through the beautiful Rother Valley!
  • Become a nature detective - look out for the unique mix of nature as you travel along the line. Both family nature trails and on board information is available - https://kesr.org.uk/what-to-see-from-the-train/   
  • Pick up that perfect souvenir of your visit from one of our Gift Shops at Tenterden Town, Northiam or Bodiam Stations.
  • Get up close and personal with the beauty of the local countryside with one of our downloadable Rail Trail walks. Or explore the diverse range of independent shops in the beautiful market town of Tenterden.
  • Combining the excitement of a train ride with a visit to Bodiam Castle? If you’re a member of the National Trust, entry to the castle is free - but if not, remember to show your valid K&ESR ticket at the entrance to receive 10% off your castle admission!

How to Find Us

Tenterden Town Station TN30 6HE

By Train - The nearest mainline train stations are at Headcorn and Ashford. Bus links operate from these stations to Tenterden
South Eastern Trains

By Bus - Service buses operate to Tenterden from: Ashford International (2 or 2A), Maidstone (12) and Headcorn (12), Tunbridge Wells (297), Hastings (312 and 29).
Stagecoach Arriva

By Car – Tenterden is about 12 miles southwest of Ashford on the A28. The K&ESR Car Park is just over the level crossing at Tenterden Town station. Find Tenterden Town Station using Google maps

Northiam Station TN31 6QT

By Car - Northiam village is about 12 miles north of Hastings. The station is adjacent to the A28, one mile north of the village centre, and has a free car park and small Tea Room. Find Northiam Station using Google maps

Bodiam Station TN32 5RA

The station has a small Gift Shop offering a range of souvenirs, hot and cold drinks, snacks and ices. Please note that there is no public car parking at Bodiam Station - visit Bodiam by train from Tenterden or Northiam.
Stagecoach route 349 runs from Hastings to Bodiam Station.

Share this page