The Staines, Wokingham and Woking Junction Railway opened Ascot station in 1856 – and by then, the town was already a byword for horseracing. Royal Ascot, the race meeting established by Queen Anne in 1711, had long been drawing crowds of the great and good, and in the late 19th century many began making their way to the event by train. By 1922, catching the train to Ascot was so popular a special platform for Ascot Racecourse was created. The special platform closed in 1965, but there was no let-up in popularity for Royal Ascot. The week still sees trains from London Waterloo to Ascot arrive packed, despite an increased service (every 15 minutes). For the rest of the year, the station is kept busy by lesser race meetings and commuter traffic between London and Reading. Ascot Racecourse is a seven-minute walk along Station Road and Ascot High Street, with its shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
In the station building, there is a ticket office, small kiosk and toilet facilities. Three platforms are currently in use, and access to platforms 2 and 3 is by footbridge (platform 2 only) or subway. Barrow crossings enable step-free access across the tracks, but these can only be used with assistance. There is a taxi rank and bus stop outside the station entrance on Station Hill.