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What is Southeastern High Speed?

If you’re looking to make a journey between London and Kent, and vice-versa, you might have heard about Southeastern High Speed. It’s a train service that runs from London St Pancras, and serves Westfield and the Olympic Park at Stratford International before heading for the likes of Dover, Ramsgate and Faversham. Let’s take a look at what the trains are like, and if the High Speed service is worth paying more for.

Where does Southeastern High Speed go?

All of these train services go from London St Pancras International. They leave from their own set of platforms, which are just up the escalators as you come in from Pancras Road (near Battle Bridge Place). Here’s where the trains go:

  • Ramsgate via Ashford International, Folkestone Central, Dover Priory and Deal
  • Ramsgate via Gravesend, Chatham, Gillingham, Faversham and Margate
  • Margate via Ashford International, Canterbury West and Ramsgate.

Each one of these routes runs once per hour. During peak hours, an additional train runs to Faversham via Gravesend every hour. You’ll also find two trains in each direction that go to Snodland and Maidstone West. At the busiest times, this means that five Southeastern High Speed trains run every hour between Ebbsfleet International, Stratford International and London (and vice-versa).

What are the trains like?

All of the Southeastern High Speed services are operated by Class 395 ‘Javelin‘ trains. They have six carriages, and often run in pairs to form a 12-coach train:

southeastern high speed class 395 train

All of the seats on the train are in a 2+2 layout and you’ll find a power socket under each pair of seats, too. The entire train is Standard Class throughout, as well.

How fast are Southeastern High Speed trains?

In the section between London St Pancras and Ashford International, they can run at speeds of up to 140mph (225km/h). This makes them the fastest domestic train in the UK. Of course, the fastest train in the UK is the Eurostar, which runs on the same lines at speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h).

This means that you can get to where you’re going pretty quickly. Let’s compare some journey times between Southeastern High Speed and the ‘classic’ routes:

JourneySoutheastern High Speed ‘Classic’ Southeastern trains
Ashford – London 35 – 40 minutes1h15m – 1h40m
Dover – London1h05m – 1h10m1h45m – 2h05m
Gillingham – London45 – 50 minutes50 mins – 1h20m
Ramsgate – London1h15m – 1h50m2h-2h10m
Typical Off-Peak journey times in July 2023. Variations possible

So, in terms of journey time, it can vary a lot. Naturally, you’ll benefit most if you’re travelling from a station like Ashford International where you can spend as long as possible travelling at maximum speed.

Remember, Southeastern High Speed runs at the same speed as all other trains away from the line between London St Pancras and Ashford International.

Is it worth paying for Southeastern High Speed?

So, it’s worth remembering that if you want to use Southeastern High Speed, then the actual ‘high speed’ section can attract a premium price. This is mostly the case if you’re just going to London. For example, a journey from Dover to Peterborough doesn’t have a specific High Speed fare, so these tickets are valid on either kind of train.

Let’s compare the fares of the journeys we just looked at above, and see what the difference in price is:

JourneySoutheastern High Speed ‘Classic’ Southeastern trains
Ashford – London £51.90£44.30
Dover – London£43.60£36.20
Gillingham – London£29.00£24.30
Ramsgate – London£51.90£44.30
Fares are for an Off-Peak Day Return, without Railcard, as of 04/07/2023

In a nutshell, there’s a premium to pay, but it isn’t huge. Instead, when it comes to paying for Southeastern High Speed, it depends on where you want to go. If you specifically want to go to Stratford International (for Westfield and the Olympic Park) or London St Pancras, then it’s worth it.

Going to the West End, Trafalgar Square or near to more of the ‘tourist’ sights? Then it might not be quite so worth it. After all, you’ll need to change at St Pancras for a tube to take you the rest of the way. By the time you faff around with that, you might have been quicker on the direct train to Victoria, London Bridge, Waterloo East or Charing Cross. The ‘High Speed’ tickets are valid on both routes, so if you’d prefer to have flexibility, then you can still buy this ticket and choose.

Is there anything else I should know?

Thinking of taking a trip soon? You can book it all with Railsmartr. We’ll be sure to show you the slower and cheaper options, so you can get the best value fare for your journey.

Connecting into a flight once you travel with Southeastern High Speed? Take a look at our guides to reaching Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Changed your mind? Need to travel on a different day? No problem at all. You can change or refund your ticket (if it’s refundable) without any extra fees.

All fares stated on this page are for ONE adult with no Railcard discount and were correct at 09:00 04/07/23. They’re subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided.