The Anonymous Widower

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Crossrail

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

Current Services Between London, Abbey Wood And The Medway Towns

Adding together current services at Abbey Wood station  as given in Wikipedia with the proposed Thameslink service between Rainham and Luton, which I wrote about in Thameslink To Rainham, gives the following service level at Abbey Wood station.


All trains will call at London Bridge station, which after rebuilding for Thameslink is complete, will be a formidable interchange to other services, such as the Underground, buses and Shank’s pony.

Londoners tend to think of Crossrail, as London’s most important rail project, but I do think that the rebuilding of London Bridge station in a few years time will be considered the second most important.

In addition, as Abbey Wood will be connected to Crossrail, there must be few places in Central London, to which travel is difficult from Abbey Wood station.


  • 2 tph to Barnehurst via Slade Green returning to London via the Bexleyheath Line
  • 2 tph to Dartford
  • 2 tph to Gillingham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Rainham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Crayford via Slade Green returning to London via the Dartford Loop Line,

This map from shows the lines around Dartford station.


  1. Barnehurst is on the Bexleyheath Line.
  2. Cayford station is on the Dartford Loop Line.
  3. The North Kent Line goes East from Datford station to Gravesend , the Medway Towns and Thanet.

In addition at Abbey Wood station, using their separate platforms and separate tracks to the Crossrail tunnel, 12 tph will be providing the Crossrail service.

Future Services From London To The Medway Towns

Looking at the Southeastern services to Gillingham and the Thameslink services to Rainham, the following can be said

  • These are the only services, that go more than a few miles past Abbey Wood station.
  • The Gillingham service is a Southeastern Metro service, so probably needs to be run by faster modern trains, rather than the current Class 465 trains.
  • The combination of the Gillingham and Rainham services will hopefully give a very passenger friendly train every fifteen minutes between Abbey Wood and Gillingham, via Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester and Chatham.
  • The Gillingham service calls at Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.
  • The Rainham service calls at Greenwich between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.

I do wonder, if it would be better if the Southeastern service from Charing Cross to Gillingham were to be extended to Rainham and always run by a twelve-car train.

  • Rainham is only four minutes further from London than Gillingham.
  • Rainham has a twelve-car bay platform.
  • Gillingham’s bay platform may not be able to take a twelve-car train.
  • Four tph can be handled in a single bay platform.

This would give a high-capacity four tph service between Abbey Wood and the Medway Towns, with two tph from Thameslink and two tph from Southeastern.

But the major factor would be that passengers would surely find it a very easy service to use.

Service Frequencies East Of Dartford

Note that of the eastbound trains, only 6 tph go through Dartford, as the other 4 tph loop back to London.

Between Dartford and Rochester, there is only the 4 tph to Gillingham/Rainham, although they are joined by 2 tph Highspeed trains between Gravesend and Rochester.

It would thus appear that the maximum frequency between Abbey Wood and Rochester is probably 6 tph.

When you consider that the trains through the area, will all be modern trains fitted with the latest ERTMS signalling, handling these numbers of trains and perhaps 4-8 tph for Crossrail between Abbey Wood and Gravesend in the future, will be well below the 24 tph handled by Crossrail and Thameslink in their central tunnels.

The New Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

Looking at the new track layout at Abbey Wood station, it appears to be very simple with just a reversing siding to the East of the two Crossrail platforms 3 and 4.

Cross-overs appear to be provided so that the following is possible.

  • Trains from Crossrail can continue towards Dartford after calling at Platform 4.
  • Trains from Dartford can continue towards Crossrail after calling at Platform 3.

It looks to me, that the track layout is designed, so that Crossrail trains can easily run to and from Dartford or any other station that the planners decide is the terminus.

Capacity Between Abbey Wood And Rochester

As the double-track line between Abbey Wood and Rochester with modern signalling can probably handle up to probably 24 tph, there is capacity for a lot of Crossrail trains to go past Abbey Wood.

Suppose  Crossrail is extended to Gravesend with 4 tph extended to the new terminal and trains stabled at a new depot at Hoo Junction to the East of the town.

The following frequencies to and from London would apply at various stations.

  • Abbey Wood – 10 tph + 12 tph Crossrail
  • Belvedere – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Erith – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Slade Green – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Dartford – 6 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Gravesend- 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail + 2 tph Highspeed

North Kent is going to get a better train service.

Hoo Junction

Hoo Junction, which is a few miles to the East of Gravesend station, has been identified by Crossrail planners, as a suitable area for a depot to serve an extended South-Eastern branch of the line.

Chris Gibbs, in his extensive report on GTR’s performance, suggests that the Hoo Junction area , be used as a depot for Thameslink services to North Kent. I wrote about this in Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

In addition, Southeastern are running short of space in Slade Green Depot.

But that’s just the railways.

This report on the BBC indicates that the new Lower Thames Crossing will cross North-South between Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

Should there be a Park-and-Ride station at Hoo Junction?

It would have a four tph service between London and the Medway Towns with a stop at Abbey Wood for Crossrail.

In Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot, I came to the following conclusion.

Crossrail, the Department of Transport, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern, Thameslink and all other stakeholders and residents should sit round a large table and agree a common long-term philosophy that is in all their best interests for the future.

What happens at Hoo Junction, will be tremendously important to transport infrastructure in the South East of England in general and Kent in particular.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet International Station

The article talks about extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station, by adding two new tracks  through Slade Green and Dartford stations, serving existing stations.

As I showed in the previous section, I think extra tracks are not necessary, as modern signalling can handle the required number of trains with ease. I suspect though, that the 75 mph Class 465 trains will need to be retired from the North Kent Line, as their performance is just not good enough.

The report says this about the connection at Ebbsfleet.

There would be a new station that would have pedestrian access with Ebbsfleet HS1 station and Northfleet on the historic line – this could be the terminus, or the new line might reach as far as Hoo Junction on the east side of Gravesend.

I’ve always felt that Ebbsfleet International station was a logical South-Eastern destination for Crossrail, mainly because of the space at the station for platforms, depots and car parking.


  • St. Pancras station may have too few platforms for Continental services in the future, so Ebbsfleet International may end up being a terminus for some of these services.
  • Southeastern is developing the Highspeed commuter services to East Kent and East Sussex, which probably need a connection to Crossrail and/or Thameslink.
  • The Fawkham Junction link connects Swanley and Ebbsfleet International stations, and it could be used by extra Highspeed services or Thameslink.

I’ve always felt that there’s a simple solution in there, but vested interests and politicians seem to stop railway planners from finding it.

So why not use upgrade Northfleet station with the following features?

  • The ability to accept the services along the North Kent Line – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • The ability to accept twelve-car trains.
  • A pedestrian link to Ebbsfleet International station based on something a bit sexy. Perhaps a fast travelator or some other form of people mover.

This Google Map shows that there is plenty of space between the stations.


Northfleet station is to the North-East of Ebbsfleet International station.

Could it be that a simple solution  would work?

  • Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe and Swanscombe become Crossrail and North Kent stations.
  • Northfleet station is connected to Ebbsfleet International station in a passenger-friendly way.
  • The four tph service through the Medway towns to London Bridge continue and are better-integrated with Thameslink at London Bridge.
  • The Swanley link to Ebbsfleet is reopened to allow more service opportunities.

But then what do I do know?

Is Abbey Wood Station A Cross-Platform Interchange?

One thing that the Modern Railways article says, is that Abbey Wood station has been designed with cross-platform interchange, in such a way that any delays to Kent services don’t have any knock-on effects on the new services.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

This map from shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.


  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

But at least with this layout, Crossrail trains can have their own pair of lines to the East, running to the North of the current tracks. The Modern Railways article says this.

Mindful of this, the working group is proposing two new dedicated tracks for the extension, running alongside the line through Slade Green and Dartford, with platforms serving the existing stations.

This Google Map shows the route through Dartford.

In some places putting in two extra tracks would be very difficult and extremely expensive and very disruptive to local residents.

Given the capabilities of modern signalling, now being demonstrated on Thameslink in Central London, I believe that something practical for the train companies and friendly for the passengers will emerge.

But one thing is certain. There will not be cross-platform interchange between Crossrail and other services at Abbey Wood station.

Interchange Between North Kent Services And Crossrail

I have a feeling, that this will come down to personal preferences.

After the opening of Crossrail to Abbey Wood in 2018 and the opening of Thameslink to Rainham, passengers will probably have to use Abbey Wood, where it will be an up-and-over via escalators, lifts or stairs.

If and when Crossrail is extended to Gravesend, any of Abbey Wood, Dartford and Gravesend, could be used as a same-platform interchange.

It would also be possible to take a Highspeed service from Ramsgate and change to Crossrail at Gravesend. Would this avoid the extra charge for High Speed One?

I think that Gravesend could become the interchange of choice, as it could have the following London-bound trains, if Crossrail is extended.

  • 2 tph – Thameslink to Luton
  • 2 tph – Southeastern to Charing Cross
  • 2 tph – Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International, Stratford international and St. Pancras.
  • 4 tph – Crossrail

There could be a need to improve the platforms to cope with the increase of passenger numbers.


Crossrail will get very involved with the new Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.


June 28, 2017 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. […] Crossrail […]

    Pingback by Kent On The Cusp Of Change « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2017 | Reply

  2. The simple solution to the “St. Pancras station has too few platforms for Continental services” is to do what was originally envisaged and run international trains direct from oop north and do customs and immigration ON the train as they do in Europe (if they do it at all). Sadly the jobsworths in the Home Office won’t accept this, so a train trip from Man Ams needs an hour plus change of terminal, bags handled, long queues etc. The new trains for the Nightstar service were sold off cheap and unused to Canada adding insult to injury.

    Comment by Mark Clayton | June 28, 2017 | Reply

  3. I think it’s a lot more complicated than that!

    You remember that the Regional Eurostar trains used to run between London and Leeds for a time. They used to bash hell out of the overhead wiring and kept bringing out lightweight wiring down. So running Eurostars between Paris and Manchester and Leeds would have required a lot of work to the overhead wiring. There is also no direct rail connection between HS1 and the WCM, that is fully-electrified at 25 KVAC.

    Somebody bought the trains and found they couldn’t be run!

    In the future, when London gets a proper electrified freight route between the WCML and HS1, probably to the North of the City, it might be possible.

    I also think, that on long journeys like this, through interesting cities, passengers tend to split the journey. There’s a post coming about Seville to London.

    Comment by AnonW | June 28, 2017 | Reply

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