The Anonymous Widower

There’s A Lot Happening Around Tilbury And Gravesend

Look at this Google Map of the Thames around Tilbury and Gravesend.

Tilbury And Gravesend

Tilbury And Gravesend

The North (Tilbury) Bank

Note the following.

Interspersed between the developments is the usual estuarine mix of creeks, salt-flats, a couple of nature reserves and lots of wildlife.

It may not be everybody’s idea of a place to have a good time, but there is a lot going on.

Developments On The North Bank

Several factors will drive developments in the area.

  • London needs housing and is already developing large numbers of houses and flats at Barking Riverside, which is a few miles to the East.
  • Will there be more housing developments along the river?
  • Crossrail will arrive in the next few years and will pass a few miles away to the North, through Romford station.
  • London Gateway might want their staff to come and go by train or light rail.
  • There is a need for another Thames crossing and how does a possible Lower Thames Crossing, which could cross Thames by East Tilbury, fit into the mix?

Many would argue that there should be better public transport along the north bank of the river.

The Gravesend (South) Bank

Note the following.

  • The Swanscombe Peninsular in the top left corner of the map.
  • Swanscombe and Northfleet stations on the North Kent Line, which runs to the North of Ebbsfleet International station.
  • According to Wikipedia, the walking routes between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations are not the best.
  • Gravesend station is in the middle of the town and the Ferry to Tilbury is within walking distance.
  • Hoo Junction, which is just off the map to the East is safeguarded as the end of a possible extension to Crossrail.

In contrast to the North Bank, the South Bank seems to have much more housing and a lot less green space and industrial development.

Developments On The South Bank

Like the North Bank, there is also development on the South.

I don’t know the Gravesend and the South Bank well, but on my walks in the last few months, it strikes me that there needs to be some public transport improvements.

Transport Improvements

Transport improvements in Tilbury, Gravesend and the surrounding area fall into three categories.

  • Tilbury and the North Bank
  • Gravesend and the South Bank
  • Cross-River

In some ways the last is the most difficult, as other factors like a new Thames Estuary airport and a higher Thames Barrier must also be considered. The Wikipedia entry for the Lower Thames Crossing gives some options and says this about Option C.

A new road crossing connecting the M2 and M20 motorways in the south with the M25, which might be linked via a proposed new Thames flood barrier. The route from the north would pass close to South Ockendon, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary, West Tilbury, East Tilbury, across West Tilbury Marshes before it crossed the Thames just to the east of Gravesend and Thurrock. It would join the M2 in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Special Landscape Area. This proposed link is also within the Kent Downs AONB and special landscape area. According to the DfT, this long route would have “considerable environmental impacts”.

It won’t be a small fight to get that option built.

I will list the possible public transport improvements in the area.


Crossrail is more than just a major East-West route across London.

It is effectively a four-branch railway.

  • Abbey Wood – Connecting to Kent
  • Heathrow
  • Reading (or Paddington) – Connecting to the West Country and Wales
  • Shenfield or Liverpool Street) – Connecting to East Anglia

I believe that Crossrail should be considered as a two line railway, by including the equally capable Thameslink, which connects at Farrington and adds the following major branches.

  • Bedford (or St. Pancras) – Connecting to the East Midlands and Sheffield
  • Brighton and Gatwick
  • Peterborough (or Kings Cross) – Connecting to Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland

The major lines not connected to either Crossrail or Thameslink are the West Coast Main Line and the lines out of Waterloo and Marylebone.

Although care is being taken to create a good passenger link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington.

The connectivity of the Crossrail/Thameslink system will be further improved by some smaller schemes.

There are two possible feeder lines in the area I am considering in this post.

Whatever happens Crossrail will become important to those in Kent, who want to get to the Southern part of Essex, as it will be a walk across platforms at Whitechapel.

At present from Abbey Wood to Shenfield takes about ninety minutes with two changes, but when Crossrail opens with a ten metre level walk at Whitechapel, it could be as short as fifty-two minutes.

Don’t underestimate how Crossrail will change the lives of everybody, who, lives, works or visits.

A Romford To London Gateway Train Service

I strongly believe that a train service from Romford to the London Gateway will eventually happen.

Consider the following.

  • As London Gateway develops, it is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs, which in turn will put enormous pressures on the roads.
  • A full service would improve connectivity to the large Lakeside Shopping Centre.
  • This could become an important feeder route to Crossrail.
  • The northern part of the route is the Romford to Upminster line, which is operated by London Overground as a shuttle using a dedicated train and platforms at the ends of the line.
  • London Overground is increasing services on the Romford to Upminster Line, so they must believe there is a need.
  • Track and electrification for the line is complete, although there would need to be some changes at Upminster.
  • c2c and London Overground are both very ambitious train operating companies.

We have evolving needs, an ease of creating the service, and ambition, which all work in favour of  implementing the service.

This route map from Wikipedia shows the stations in the area.

North Bank Lines

A full service on the route could  call at these stations?

The service could also call at Tilbury Riverside, as services used to do. This would serve the London Cruise Terminal and Tilbury Fort.

I wrote Exploring Tilbury Riverside about this area.

This is one of those ideas, that should be filed under Watch This Space.

Crossrail Extension To Gravesend

I wrote Crossrail Extension To Gravesend on this and the extension brings benefits.

  • It will give vastly improved connections from Central London to East Kent and East Sussex.
  • It would make Crossrail an even better option than driving across the Dartford Crossing.
  • It would mean that Heathrow Airport had a direct link to Continental rail services at Ebbsfleet International.
  • Ebbsfleet International is one of the few stations that could be an enormous Park-and-Ride station.
  • The proposed depot at Hoo could be good for both Crossrail in terms of flexibility and East Kent, in terms of employment.

I think this extension of Crossrail will happen.

Barking To The Dartford Crossing

I’m including this map, as it shows the nature of the area.

Barking To The Dartford Crossing

Barking To The Dartford Crossing

Barking is in the top left and the The Dartford Crossing is in the bottom right of the map.

Note the following.

  • The east-west main road just north of the river is the A13.
  • Dagenham Dock station is on this road with the Barking Riverside development below it and to the south-west.
  • To the south-east of the station, there is a large amount of industry.
  • The Beckton Sewage Works are on the North Bank, with Crossness on the south.
  • As you get towards the Dartford Crossing, the green space is Rainham Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve, with closer to the crossing Purfleet.

It is an area for those with imagination.

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line is to the west and is being extended to Barking Riverside, where tens of thousands of homes are being developed.

The Transport for London Plan for 2050, says this.

An extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside is currently being planned to open up development of a major new quarter with 11,500 new homes.

A potential further extension could involve crossing the river to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, where there are major regeneration needs and major opportunities for new housing developments.

My view is that if you give Barking Riverside connections to the north, west and south, perhaps a connection to the east to Dagenham Dock station on c2c is needed as well.

The Docklands Light Railway

The original plan for the area envisaged extending the Docklands Light Railway to Dagenham Dock. Wikipedia says this.

It is unlikely to go ahead as there are plans to bring the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside giving better links to Barking and East London and via Barking station to Central London. This will however cause the Docklands Light Railway to not head east and have connections to c2c rail services at Dagenham Dock, so this extension could still take place and the two services would have an interchange at Barking Riverside.

I do think that some transport planners look with disdain at the Docklands Light Railway, but generally the over a hundred million rides taken on the system every year, give another view.

With the emphasis on leisure and with green issues to the fore, I could see the system reaching the Nature Reserve at Rainham.

The Docklands Light Railway is East London’s good fairy and she has ways of surprising everybody.

The Poor Connectivity Of HS1

HS1 must be one of the worst designed railways in Europe.

Currently, HS2 is being designed and great care is being taken to ensure that there is good connectivity all along the route. These are a few examples.

  • Old Oak Common station will be a hub in North West London.
  • Tram routes will reach Birmingham Curzon Street station long before HS2 does.
  • Birmingham Interchange will be linked to Birmingham Airport
  • Trams have already reached the area of the Nottingham HS2 station at Totton.
  • HS2 will call at Crewe, which is a major railway hub.

On the other hand, two of HS1’s intermediate stations have very poor connectivity.

  • Stratford International only has a direct link to the Docklands Light Railway.
  • Ebbsfleet International has very poor direct links to classic lines.

Neither station has a direct connection to Crossrail.

HS1 seems to been designed with very limited objectives in mind, one of which was to win the Olympics for 2012.

Crossing The River

There is no doubt that there is a need for more capacity across the lower Thames and there are several plans for a Lower Thames Crossing.

Other plans have included a combined rail and road link between Medway and Canvey Island and the latest proposal has been London’s plan for a Gospel Oak to Barking Line Extension to Abbey Wood.

It is also worth noting, that the distance between Tilbury Riverside and Gravesend is probably about the same as the distance spanned by the Emirates Air-Line at Greenwich.

Also, could modern ferries provide a better and more reliable link?

The only plan being implemented that will help get people cross the Thames at the present time, is Crossrail. It will be interesting to see how Dartford Crossing traffic changes, when Crossrail opens.

I think Crossrail could be part of quite a proportion of Cross-River traffic.

  • It links with the twenty-four trains per hour North-South links of Thameslink and the East London Line.
  • It links with West London and Heathrow.
  • If it served Ebbsfleet International, that would become a valuable Park-and-Ride station.
  • It passes right through the heart of London, as opposed to HS1 and the classic lines from the South, which terminate slightly to the North and South respectively.
  • I think one of the limiting factors on people switching from car to Crossrail, may well be the availability of car parking at Crossrail stations and especially those like Abbey Wood and Shenfield.

It is a pity that HS1 was so badly designed, as if Stratford International and Ebbsfleet International stations, were both better connected, then the Highspeed services on the line would be a valuable cross-River link.

I wrote about the poor connectivity of Ebbsfleet Internation to classic lines in So Near And Yet So Far!

My personal preference for another connection would be to build a bridge between Barking Riverside and Thamesmead, to take the Gospel Oak to Barking Line over rather than under the Thames, if this was possible. I would use tram-trains on the railway, that if required did a walkabout around the estates as trams on both sides of the river. The bridge would also be open to cyclists and pedestrians.

Properly designed, the bridge could be a visitor attraction in its own right!

Will Floods And Europe Solve The Problem?

If Crossrail/Thameslink is one elephant in the room, then flood protection for London and Europe are the others!

This is a Google Map of the Thames Estuary from Tilbury and Gravesend in the West to Southend in the East.

Gravesend And Tilbury To Southend

Gravesend And Tilbury To Southend

As I write this piece, the North West of England is suffering the ravages of Hurricane Desmond. Weather seems to be getting more extreme and the North Sea hasn’t had a major disaster since the North Sea Flood of 1953. This is from Wikipedia.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations. The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland. In England, 307 people were killed in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Nineteen were killed in Scotland.

Desmond is very much a pussy-cat compared to what nature can and will throw at us.

In 1953, we had fewer casualties than the Dutch because our warnings were better and one would hope that because of universal television and better communications another North Sea Flood on the scale of 1953, would probably be less costly in lives lost.

The Dutch have determined that the sea shall not have them and have created impressive defences all along the coast call ed the Delta Works.

We have improved the defences along the Thames Estuary and London is now protected by the Thames Barrier.

In a section on the Future of the Thames Barrier in Wikipedia, this is said.

The barrier was originally designed to protect London against a very high flood level (with an estimated return period of one hundred years) up to the year 2030, after which the protection would decrease, whilst remaining within acceptable limits. At the time of its construction, the barrier was expected to be used 2–3 times per year. It is now being used 6–7 times per year.

It also says that the barrier would be replaced after 2070.

My cautious nature says that is a date that is too far in the future.

So why will Europe have such a large affect on the Thames Estuary?

Many predictions say that over the future, London will grow and become an even more powerful magnet for the people of Europe.

Europe itself will also become more prosperous, so we will see massive increase in both freight and road traffic across the channel.

The Channel Tunnel is unique amongst many major fixed cross-water links, in that it can be easily augmented by ferries, but I believe that people, vehicles and freight, will increasingly be on longer journeys on rail. Think about the effect of these developments.

  • The destinations served by direct train from St. Pancras will increase.
  • Cross-channel car traffic will increase.
  • The Dutch and the Germans have built th Betuweroute, which is high-capacity freight route.
  • Vehicle imports and exports are increasingly handled by special trains.
  • Liverpool is building a massive new container port. A lot of the freight could go by train to Europe.

I believe that a second fixed-link across the Channel will be built, which will in itself generate more trains to and from London and vehicular traffic to and from everywhere in the UK.

Improving the rail and road networks both suffer from the same problem – London.

  • Freight trains can get to and from Barking on HS1, but there is little spare capacity through London.
  • Passenger trains will increasingly be constrained by lack of capacity at St. Pancras, but using Ebbsfleet International and an extended Crossrail, would be a more than acceptable alternative for many travellers.
  • Road traffic will clog the Dartford Crossing and the Southern section of the M25.

The only solution is to create a new road and rail corridor to get around London.

As London will need a new flood barrier, probably we should start with an idea similar to Option C for a new Lower Thames Crossing.

A new road crossing connecting the M2 and M20 motorways in the south with the M25, which might be linked via a proposed new Thames flood barrier. The route from the north would pass close to South Ockendon, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary, West Tilbury, East Tilbury, across West Tilbury Marshes before it crossed the Thames just to the east of Gravesend and Thurrock. It would join the M2 in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Special Landscape Area. This proposed link is also within the Kent Downs AONB and special landscape area. According to the DfT, this long route would have “considerable environmental impacts”.

Given enough time to generate a full plan, we can probably come up with a better route, perhaps further to the East.




December 5, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Some interesting thoughts and I would return to my proposal that this area needs to be ‘stitched’ with a range of connections to the south [Kent] side of the Thames around Ebbsfleet. The Paramount ‘theme’ park, planned for the Swanscombe peninsula, is going to bring massive employment and regeneration to the area. Accessing these opportunities from Essex requires a significant improvement in public transport.

    I have long mused over how a light rail system could be integral to this. It wouldn’t be cheap, and not as glamourous as an HS2 or Crossrail 2, but with the companies behind Bluewater, Lakeside, Paramount Theme park, London Gateway,Tilbury Docks and Cruise Terminal, there are significant opportunities to get funding contributions. All of these are major employers and better public transport links are clearly a benefit to their employees, customers and visitors and would attract a very strong business case.

    My suggestion is for light rail system that encompasses the Upminster – Grays branch with a high frequency light rail [tram train?] service via Tilbury, tunnel under the Thames, to Gravesend and then connect to Ebbsfleet international, and Paramount Park. It could equally extend to London Gateway, per your suggestion, and incorporate Romford to Upminster,

    Another branch from Dartford, via Bluewater, towards Ebbsfleet taking in the areas of new housing development planned and a connection to one of the Kent rail lines to allow better [more frequent, longer hours, public transport ] access for people south of the county.

    It would be transformative for this area. The network would allow employees, customers and visitors to easily access these hubs of employment and leisure.from north of the Thames and south east London.

    Comment by PJS | December 5, 2015 | Reply

  2. Thanks for your comment. I was actually going to Tilbury today to take the ferry to Gravesend and then come back by train. But I got distracted.

    I think Romford to Upminster is key, as it must be an expensive to operate,m but it also could connect the riversid to Crossrail.

    This post incidentalkly, is only about a trhird written.

    Are you in Kent or Essex?

    Comment by AnonW | December 5, 2015 | Reply

  3. Hello, Anon… I have read your blog with growing interest from an armchair in north London. [neither Kent or Essex, therefore]. I admire folk like yourself and Diamond Geezer who get out and about and make the most of life, then share your adventures with those, like me, who let the weeks pass them by…

    I do however, spend an inordinate amount of time musing on possible regeneration projects and this area really offers a massive opportunity [indeed if it was wholly within greater London one would expect a much more coherent plan with a unifying body along the lines of the Olympic park or Old Oak Common]

    I certainly agree that extending a direct connection to Romford would show real ambition [but suspect that it will prove a costly project to connect it directly to the Upminster to Grays branch].

    Paramount Theme park will have a very high proportion of the jobs within the service industry, demanding a flexible workforce with early starts and late finishes. If a frequent, reliable public transport network is not available to get people to the site then 1] the catchment area for the workforce will not extend beyond a very confined area and 2] there will be a reliance on personal vehicles for transport that will add to the congestion drawn by the attraction.

    I know that Paramount to Ebbsfleet international is literally on its doorstep, but I have been disappointed to note see any news of a ‘marquee’ method of connection between the two [some kind of monorail system is fantasy thinking on my part] but when you think how close Grays, Lakeside, Tilbury [docks and, crucially for visitors to the park, the cruise terminal] you begin to identify how an integrated light rail system can generate a great deal of traffic.

    Sorry that you didnt make the trip there today …but I look forward to your report when you get the chance…

    thanks for your time replying…

    Comment by PJS | December 5, 2015 | Reply

    • I did make the trip today, but the weather thwarted a voyage to Gravesend.

      I learned some more and suspect I’ll finish the post tomorrow some time.

      I suppose you realise I’m in Dalston.


      Comment by James | December 5, 2015 | Reply

  4. […] There’s A Lot Happening Around Tilbury And Gravesend, I said […]

    Pingback by TfL Considering Extending DLR As Far As Abbey Wood « The Anonymous Widower | November 6, 2021 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: