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23 Jun 2021

Important passenger information: train travel to the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George's

Important passenger information: train travel to the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George's: Swanley 28052021-022

  • Mandatory seat reservations for Highspeed services between London St Pancras and Sandwich 
  • System in place on morning trains between Wednesday 14th - Sunday 18th July
  • Special event timetable in place for the duration of the Open, with many trains across Kent busier than usual 
  • Passengers asked to check before they travel and make alternative arrangements if possible 

To ensure as many people as possible can travel, whilst also ensuring compliance with required social distancing, a mandatory reservation system will operate on specific Southeastern Highspeed morning services departing from London St Pancras during the 149th Open Golf Championship at Royal St George’s, Sandwich.  

Alongside the special reservation system, Southeastern is also running additional trains to accommodate extra passengers. For the duration of the Open, Southeastern will run a special event timetable, put in place to accommodate the additional services, with additional Highspeed trains between London St Pancras International, Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International and stations on to Sandwich.

As well as additional Highspeed services to Sandwich for the Open it means that there are also some changes to services across Kent between Tuesday 13th and Sunday 18th July, which means that passengers travelling to and from Sandwich from other parts of Kent may find their train to be busier than usual. Full details of all train services to Sandwich for the Open are included below.  

This is the first time that Southeastern has put in place a reservation system for places on its trains, and it applies to passengers for The Open and regular passengers who use this route. These trains are expected to be very busy. There will also be a managed queuing system at St Pancras, Stratford and Ebbsfleet. 

The mandatory reservations for all passengers apply to the following Highspeed services: 

Wednesday 14 July to Sunday 18th July  

London St Pancras International to Sandwich, via Ashford and Canterbury West 

From 06:00 – 10:37 (10:34 on Saturday 17th July) 

Reservations, which are free of charge, can be made online, via the Southeastern website and App, or at ticket offices, but they won’t be available at ticket vending machines. A reservation will guarantee a space (not necessarily a seat) on the specific booked train. Reservations will be on a first come first served basis and once all spaces have been reserved, no further reservations will be permitted.  

Passengers intending to use the route on these days are strongly advised to book their ticket and reservation well in advance and to arrange collection of their ticket (if necessary) before they get to St Pancras. 

Southeastern is asking its regular travellers on these routes, if they can, to try and change their travel plans during The Open as trains will be very busy. If they cannot change their travel arrangements, they can of course reserve a place (subject to availability) on the specific morning train they want to travel on. Season ticket holders can do this at any Southeastern ticket office.  

As play at The Open has no fixed end time, there will be no reservations in place for trains coming back from Sandwich in the afternoon or evening. There will be a managed queuing system at Sandwich station and passengers will be invited to board on a first come first served basis as trains are available. These return trains from Sandwich will be very busy. 

A spokesperson for Southeastern said:  

“The Open is a prestigious event and we’re really proud to play our part in getting spectators to Sandwich. We want to get everyone there safely and in comfort, but we will still have limited space available. There will be lots of people who want to travel with us, so we have set up a reservation system on some morning services at the busier times. Once all spaces have been reserved, no further reservations will be permitted. 

“We urge event goers and our regular passengers to check the latest travel advice on our website.” 

Full details are available on the Southeastern website –

Contact information

Southeastern Press Office

0330 095 9091

Notes to editors

  • Following its postponement last year due to Covid-19, the 149th Open will be now played at Royal St George’s, Sandwich from 11th-18th July 2021.  
  • Southeastern is supporting the event as the principal public transport provider for the tournament. One third of spectators are expected to travel to The Open by train. The Royal St George’s course is approximately a 20-minute walk from Sandwich railway station. 
  • Mandatory reservations (booked train only) have been in place since mid-2020 for a number of inter-city rail operators, including LNER and GWR. ‘Booked train only’ has also been used for special events elsewhere on the rail network (e.g. Six Nations Rugby at Cardiff). This will be the first time such a policy has been implemented at Southeastern. 
  • Reservations will be on a first come first served basis. Once all reservations have been taken up on a train, no further bookings will be accepted on that train. A reservation guarantees a space on the train (not necessarily a seat). Seats will be available on a first come first served basis. There is no charge for a reservation. 
  • The Royal St George’s course is approximately a 20-minute walk away from Sandwich railway station. Arrangements will be made for passengers with accessibility needs.  
  • There are also direct Southeastern train services to Sandwich from London Charing Cross or Cannon Street on weekdays and London Victoria-only over the weekend but the journey time is longer (approx. 140 minutes rather than 90 minutes) and there is no reservation system. From Kent there are some limited direct services from Orpington and Ashford International. 
  • Social distancing of 1 metre plus remains in place, and passengers must wear a face covering when on board.  

Trains on which a reservation must be made 

A number of trains will be subject to mandatory reservations between Wednesday 14th and Sunday 18th July - please download the PDF below for more information.

Timetable changes between Tuesday 13th - Sunday 18th July 

Medway Valley Line 

  • There will be no Highspeed services from Maidstone West or Snodland  

Highspeed via Chatham 

  • There will be a limited Highspeed service between London St Pancras International, Faversham, Margate and Ramsgate.  
  • Some Highspeed trains between London St Pancras International and Ramsgate via Faversham will have fewer carriages than normal. 

 Ashford – Canterbury West – Ramsgate/Margate  

  • Some Highspeed services will be diverted after Canterbury West to run to and from Sandwich.  
  • There will be a reduced service between Ashford International, Canterbury West and Ramsgate/Margate.  

 Ashford International – Dover – Ramsgate 

  • Most trains between London Charing Cross and Ramsgate will start and terminate at Dover Priory.  

Check your journey: 

At the station 

On arrival at St Pancras, Stratford or Ebbsfleet there’ll be extra staff on hand to keep you safe and secure and a managed queueing system to assist your journey, so remember to bring a bottle of water and leave plenty of time. 

Although services in the evening are also expected to be very busy, you can’t reserve a space on the return journey. A queuing system will be in place at Sandwich station, so please allow a little extra time for your journey. 

Please remember that it’s mandatory to wear a face covering while travelling on our trains and all areas of our stations unless you’re exempt. 

Check latest government guidance and find out how you can travel with confidence on our trains: 


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