The nearest railway station to Hartley is at Longfield which was opened in 1872. Originally it was called Fawkham Station (for Hartley and Longfield), on 12 June 1961 it was renamed the more realistic Longfield (for Fawkham and Hartley). Over the years the name has just become Longfield.
The line through Longfield runs from the Medway Towns to Swanley, and thence onto St Mary Cray, Bromley South, Denmark Hill and London Victoria. A few peak hour trains used to go to Elephant and Castle and London Blackfriars. The stations between Rochester and Swanley are Sole Street, Meopham, Longfield and Farningham Road, of these Longfield is by far the busiest. The rail industry sometimes refers to this section of track as the "Sole Street Bank" although the actual bank is just the steep incline between Sole Street and Rochester.
Planning a Journey
From 12 December 2021 the train service to Longfield on Mondays to Saturdays will be about 2 trains an hour. Outside of peak hours one train calls at all stations to St Mary Cray, then Bromley South, Denmark Hill and Victoria. The other runs fast to Bromley South and Victoria only. On Sundays the service is only one train an hour.
As of December 2021 fares from Longfield to Victoria are:
Any Time Single: £14.10
Off Peak Single: £13.90
Any Time Return: £25.90
Off Peak Return: £14.00
Off Peak Travelcard: £18.10 (travel on trains/tubes/buses in London area)
Weekly Season: £88.00
Weekly Travelcard: £159.40 (travel on trains/tubes/buses in London area)
Monthly Season: £338.00
Monthly Travelcard: £410.90 (travel on trains/tubes/buses in London area)
Flexi Season: £181.60 (any 8 days in 28 day period - Travelcard option not available)
Annual Season: £3,520
Annual Travelcard: £4,280 (travel on trains/tubes/buses in London area)
Traveline Journey Planner (all public transport options - it says "South West" but works nationally)
Longfield Station Facilities
(details correct as of 8.12.21)
The ticket office is open 6.15 - 19.30 Monday to Friday, 7.15 - 13.30 (Saturday) and 8.15 - 13.00 (Sunday). There is a ticket machine on the Chatham bound platform.
The ticket office is the only waiting room, so is only available when the ticket office is open. There are toilets on the Chatham bound platform that are open when the station is staffed.
Longfield Station has two car parks on either side, one owned by the rail company (Longfield side) and the other in private ownership (Hartley side). There are also facilities for storage of bicycles outside the station and on the Chatham bound platform.
There is disabled access to both platforms, but not between them, and the ticket office has a hearing loop installed.
Organisation of the Railways
From 1948 to 1994, British Railways or British Rail, a state owned company operated the whole rail industry.
Since privatisation of the railways, the ownership of the track, the trains and operation of the trains have been split. Oversight is under both the Office of Rail and Road and the Department for Transport.
Publicly owned company Network Rail Limited has owned the rail infrastructure since 2002. They own Longfield Station, but it is operated by the franchise operator for Kent.
The trains themselves are leased by the franchise operator for Kent from one of the Rolling Stock Companies that were created on privatisation.
Since 16 October 2021 the local franchise has been run publicly by Department for Transport owned company SE Trains Limited, after they claimed the previous private operator South Eastern Railway Limited had failed to pay back £25 million of taxpayer funding.
For the future the Government has announced their intention to create a company called Great British Railways to own the infrastructure and operations. However unlike British Rail, they will contract out the operations on a concession model.
Most fares from Longfield are regulated fares, how much they can go up each year is set by the Government. Normally they go up in January based on what the Retail Price Index for the previous July was. If this continues to apply then fares should rise by 3.8% in January 2022. There is a lot of criticism of using RPI rather than the lower index of inflation (Consumer Price Index - CPI), which is used to uprate pensions and benefits. From 2006-2012 the Government set the fare increases for Kent at RPI + 3 percent because of the opening of the HS1 line. So travellers from Longfield were paying extra for a service they were not benefitting from.