Dover’s first rail connection with London was established by the South Eastern Railway (SER) on 7 February 1844, when it opened (from Folkestone) the final section of its main line to Dover Town Station. One of the main reasons for building the line to Dover was to link with the cross-Channel steamers plying from the harbour. In 1862 the SER opened an extension from the Town Station to connect with rails laid by the Admiralty on the Admiralty Pier. This allowed trains to be run onto the pier alongside the steamers, which had been docking there since 1851.On 22 July 1861 Dover got its second rail link with London when the London, Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) opened a temporary terminus at Dover Priory Station. Between the Priory Station and the harbour it was necessary to drive a 685-yard tunnel under the Western Heights. This was completed a few months later and the Harbour Station was opened on 1 November 1861. Arrangements were made in 1862 to build a junction with the Admiralty Pier line and from 30 August 1864 boat trains of both companies used the pier.For seven years a substantial advantage in distance lay with the LCDR but the opening of the new SER main line via Sevenoaks secured equality, the LCDR 78 miles from London Victoria to Dover Harbour, via the Medway Towns and Canterbury, being matched by the SER 76½ from Charing Cross to Dover Town.On 15 June 1881 a direct link between the SER Town and LCDR Harbour Stations was opened. This was a joint line of the two companies, built as part of the Dover and Deal Joint Railway, which connected the existing SER terminus at Deal with the LCDR main line at Buckland Junction. The two competing companies could never agree to a complete merger but in 1899 economic necessity forced them into a ‘Working Union’. In this union the companies retained their separate existence but for operating purposes their lines were managed as one railway. The new grouping went by the name South Eastern & Chatham Railway (SECR) but it was never a company in its own right.In 1909 work began on the new Marine Station, was nearing completion when the First World War broke out, and from 2 January 1915 it was used for ambulance and other military traffic. Most of this traffic approached from the LCDR route, as a landslide between Folkestone and Dover in December 1915 closed the SER route until August 1919. Public use of the Marine Station (for Continental traffic) began in January 1920 with full domestic passenger services introduced by 1922. In January 1923 the SER and LCDR were grouped, along with other railway companies in the South of England, to form the Southern Railway. After the grouping the railway layout of Dover was simplified, passenger traffic for Dover itself was concentrated on the Priory Station. The old Harbour Station closed (the Town Station had closed to civilian passengers in October 1914), and the approach lines to the Marine Station were remodelled. The old engine sheds at Dover Priory and Dover Town were closed and consolidated into the new sheds built near the site of the old Town Station. In 1936 a new Train Ferry Dock was opened, enabling a sleeping car service between London and Paris, the ‘Night Ferry’, to be introduced.During the Second World War Dover’s railways played and important role and suffered much damage. The Marine Station saw heavy traffic during the evacuation of Dunkirk, handling hundreds of special troop and ambulance trains. Both the Marine and Priory Stations were damaged by bombing and shelling during the war. After the war services got back to normal with luxury services like the ‘Night Ferry and the ‘Golden Arrow’ being reintroduced and cross-Channel traffic increasing. In 1961 the lines around Dover were electrified as part of the final phase of Kent Coast electrification and steam haulage came to an end. The one exception to this was on the Promenade Railwaywhere use of third-rail electrification would not have been safe. Passenger traffic for Dover is now handled exclusively by the Priory Station after the Marine Station closed in 1994.In December 2009 high-speed trains started running from Dover Priory to London St Pancras. From Ashford International the new Javelin trains use the high-speed line built for the Eurostar Channel Tunnel services. Passengers are now able to reach London in 1 hour 6 minutes, saving at least 30 minutes on the previous quickest journey time.