The line was originally built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR), starting at London's second busiest terminus, London Victoria. The station originally opened in October 1860 as the eventual terminus for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway; however, two years later an expansion to the station was built for the LC&DR.
Running from London Victoria, the line passes the famous Battersea Power Station and criss-crosses lines to south London stations such as Clapham Junction. After Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street, the line diverges through Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Penge East and Beckenham Junction; services can also take the Catford Loop Line, which passes through Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye and Catford.
The lines merge again at Shortlands and head into Kent, crossing the South Eastern Main Line (which serves other London termini such as Charing Cross or Cannon Street) and the main line between Ashford and Swanley.
Between Farningham Road and Longfield, the Chatham Main Line crosses the junction previously used by Eurostar trains from Waterloo International to pick up High Speed One. Although the line still exists, it is reserved for emergency use only by Class 395 Javelins. After crossing the River Medway, the line runs through the Medway Towns and follows the North Kent coastal towns to Faversham before splitting to either Ramsgate and Margate or Folkestone and Dover.
The line has passed between several operators in its life; at the time of sectorisation, the line was operated by Network SouthEast and transferred to Connex South Eastern after privatisation. Today the line is operated by Southeastern, part of the Govia Group, who operate Class 375s and Class 465s from the capital to the Medway Towns and the Kent Coast. Southeastern operate via two different routes, services from the Kent Coast travel to Bromley South and via the original route through Kent House and West Dulwich into Victoria, while services originating in the Medway towns frequent the Catford Loop via Denmark Hill into the terminus.
Updates to the line and rolling stock in recent years have seen Southeastern's roster of four-car Class 375 units repainted into the company's new dark blue livery, which at the same time some of Class 465/9s that operate out of Gillingham and Rochester are receiving an interior refresh as part of the refurbishment programme. In December 2015, a new station at Rochester was also opened to cope with modern passenger demand and longer trains operating on the route. The original station had stood since the early 1890s, with the new station sited 500m west of the original structure.
Chatham Main Line: London-Gillingham for Train Simulator recreates the 43 mile (69km) route between London Victoria and Gillingham (Kent), via Kent House and Denmark Hill, including the new Rochester Station. Also included are several EMUs representative of services seen today on the route, such as the Class 465/0 in Southeastern 'Grey Stripe' livery, Class 465/1 in Southeastern 'Blue Stripe' livery and Class 375 ( including /3, /6 and /7 variants) in Southeastern 'Dark Blue' livery.
- 1S24 0937 London Victoria to Ramsgate
- 2C74 2103 Dover Priory to London Victoria
- 2K90 0708 Gillingham to London Victoria
- 2M90 0748 London Victoria to Beckenham Junction
- 2M82 1540 London Victoria to Orpington
- 2K78 1452 Dover Priory to London Victoria
- 1B90 0932 Bromley South to London Victoria
- 2K08 0758 London Victoria to Rochester
- 48 mile (69km) Chatham Main Line route between London Victoria and Gllingham (Kent), with a short extension to Rainham
- Catford Loop Line serving Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye and Catford
- Orpington Branch serving Petts Wood and Chislehurst
- Standard UK colour light signalling throughout the route
- Class 465 in Southeastern ‘Grey Stripe’ livery and 'Blue Stripe’ livery
- Class 375/3, Class 375/6 and Class 375/7 in Southeastern ‘Dark Blue’ livery
- Scenarios for the route
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