The Anonymous Widower

Could The East London Line Be Extended To Ebbsfleet?

A few months ago, I speculated in a post called Can We Extend Overground Connectivity In North London, about what to do for northern termini if the number of trains through the core of the East London Line (ELL) is increased from 16 to 24 tph. This capsacity increase is one of Transport for London’s objectives for the line, which would create a second high-capacity link between North and South London, fanning out to several termini at both ends, just as Thameslink does.

There is probably not the problem of finding termini south of the river, as there is an intricate network of lines, where the extra trains could go.

But after looking looking at taking Crossrail to Dartford and Gravesham, I think that it might be better to send some of the ELL trains past New Cross, which of all the southern terminals is probably the less likely to be able to turn round many more extra trains an hour.

Trains would go to Ebbsfleet from New Cross by way of the following stations.

St. Johns

Lewisham – for DLR



Woolwich Dockyard

Woolwich Arsenal – for DLR


Abbey Wood


Greenhithe – for Bluewater

If it had a Reading-style bridge connection to Eurostar and Highspeed services at Ebbsfleet, this would give much needed connectivity in getting passengers to and from South and Central London and Crossrail.

The only disadvantage is that you would be swapping a fast train for a slow one.

I estimate that Ebbsfleet to Abbey Wood would take about twenty minutes. By comparison Abbey Wood to Heathrow on Crossrail will take fifty-three minutes. Going from Ebbsfleet to Heathrow via St. Pancras will probably take just under the hour, but you’ll have to negotiate  A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station, that is St. Pancras.

But there are several advantages.

1. As was pointed out here, Crossrail going past Abbey Wood will need third-rail capable trains.  The East London Line is third-rail like most of the lines south of the Thames and I think it is unlikely that it could ever be powered by overhead electrification, due to the size limitations of the Thames Tunnel.

2. As these trains would go through the Thames Tunnel to destinations in the North, this would effectively add more much needed terminal capacity to the terminals serving South of London.

3. There is plenty of space at Ebbsfleet to build a proper terminal platform for the East London Line.

4. Ebbsfleet could also be given the capability of accepting third-rail through trains to and from the South.

5. There is no new infrastructure, except for building the extra platforms at Ebbsfleet.

6. The large new garden city at Ebbsfleet gets much better connections to South and East London.

7. Hopefully, the improved connectivity of Ebbsfleet will improve ridership on Southeastern’s Highspeed services and possibly get more services from both the South East and Europe.

8. There could be a connection to Gatwick on the Redhill to Tonbridge line.

9. Ebbsfleet will become another transport interchange on the outskirts of London to go with Ealing Broadway, Cheshunt, Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Reading, Shenfield, Stratford, Tottenham Hale and Watford. Where will the next one be created?

In some ways a lot of this speculation is unnecessary.

If the Channel Tunnel Rail Link had been built better, so that there was a simple interchange with Crossrail and the Underground at Stratford, then passengers would have the choice of using that station instead of St. Pancras. It was also designed as the bleakest and most unwelcoming station in the UK.

I do wonder though, if Transport for London are keen to get hold of the Dartford lines, so that they can sort out the mess.




December 7, 2014 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

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