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Dover Western Docks Last Trains

Dover Western Docks station was closed following the completion of the Channel Tunnel and concentration of remaining Dover ferry services on the non-rail connected Eastern Docks. This text is based on an article from the February 1995 issue of Live Rail distributed to members of the SEG. In the past Dover Western Docks has been visited by a number of railtours operated by the Southern Electric Group. One of these was on Sunday 4th October 1987 utilising very unusual traction for the Kent area as it was formed of a single 4Rep unit normally deployed only on the Bournemouth line. This tour also visited the now closed Addiscombe branch earlier in the itinerary.

There was a time when any rail station or line closure would command the attention of hundreds, to travel on, record, or simply witness the "last train" rites. Even Coulsdon North - a relatively minor location and really no more than carriage sidings with a platform, attracted more than the few present at Dover Western Docks on the evening of Saturday 24th September 1994. A head count on both the last timetabled departures and arrivals revealed no more than thirty individuals - the total including the train crews.

The penultimate arrival proved to be the last train to make it to the buffer stops at Dover Western Docks - this being the 21:02 departure from Dover Priory, arriving Dover Western Docks 21:07, formed by 4Cep 1604 running a few minutes late. Strategically positioned photographic floodlighting providing illumination for everybody's advantage - the video camcorders outnumbered the cameras. Two bemused "normal" passengers arrived through the lights - both from a days angling on the per - disrupting the traincrew's posed "record" pictures. A bored British Transport Police officer looked on.

There was an almost unreal atmosphere at Dover Western Docks. Unlike many previous "last train" events, only the clicking of shutters disturbed the peace. 1604 was ready for the last public departure on time at 2144 but did not get the road until two minutes later. No traditional detonators exploding tonight, but the silence was shattered by alternating blasts on the two tone horns until clear of the roof. Thirty eight chains later, the last public departure had left Dover Western Docks.

The 2205 service back from Priory to Western Docks was the last public arrival timetabled for 22:10. Again formed of a single 4Cep 1536 - this was also two minutes late departing Priory , awaiting the departure of another service. Western Docks arrival: no detonators, no horns, no ceremony, not even making it to the buffers. 1536 ran in at dead slow speed to stop on top of a previously stabled 8Cep train. So at 22:13 a major four platform, twelve car length, overall roof station became officially deleted from the public timetable. The few witnesses dispersed mainly to pre-positioned cars accompanied by the din of a hovercraft landing nearby.

Dover Western Docks will continue in operational use for unit berthing and cleaning purposes, and the following day should have seen special workings by 70000 and 71001. No doubt such special traffic will continue with Dover Western Docks a regular railtour destination in the same way as Folkestone Harbour and Weymouth Quay. This could be the reason for the apparent lack of interest in the final public timetable trains. Since this article appeared in Live Rail the former Dover Western Docks station has ceased to be used for train berthing and closed completely. All rail connections were removed by early 1996 and it is now used as a luxury cruise ship berth.