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South Eastern Railway (UK)

British pre-grouping railway company

The South Eastern Railway (SER) was a railway company in south-eastern England from 1836 to 1922. The company was formed to construct a route from London to Dover. Branch lines were later opened to Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Canterbury and other places in Kent. The SER absorbed or leased other railways, including the London and Greenwich Railway and the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. Most of the company's routes were in Kent, eastern Sussex and the London suburbs. There was also a long cross-country route from Redhill, Surrey to Reading, Berkshire.

Much of the company's early history saw attempts at expansion. This sometimes led to feuds with its neighbours, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR) in the west and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) to the north-east. However, in 1899 the SER agreed with the LCDR to share operation of the two railways and work them as a single system, marketed as the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. Receipts were pooled but it was not a full amalgamation. The SER and LCDR remained separate companies until they became constituents of the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923 under the Railways Act 1921.