The Anonymous Widower

An Analysis Of The Train Service On The East Kent Line With Respect To The Three Options For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet (C2E)

Much of the analysis is an update of a post called Up To £3 Billion For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet, that I wrote in June 2019.

Current Services Along The North Kent Line

I shall start by looking at current services on the North Kent Line.

Thameslink – Luton And Rainham (Kent)

A Thameslink service

  • Two trains per hour (tph)
  • South of the Thames, the service calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Whatcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Eight-car Class 700 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for interchange with Crossrail.

If there needed to be more capacity on this service, I suspect Thameslink could run twelve-car trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Gravesend

Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Hither Green, Lee, Mottingham, New Eltham, Sidcup, Albany Park, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station.
  • The service calls at Gravesend for interchange with Southeastern HighSpeed services between St. Pancras International station and North-East Kent, East Kent and soon-to-be East Sussex.
  • Class 465 trains work the route, which have a 75 mph operating speed.

This picture shows a train for Gravesend in London Bridge station.

My feeling, is that the service would be improved by modern 100 mph trains, as these antique slow-coaches must restrict the speed of faster trains.

Southeastern – London Cannon Street And Dartford Loop Line

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Four tph in both directions.
  • Calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Two tph return to Cannon Street via Crayford and Sidcup and two tph return to Cannon Street via Barnehurst and Bexleyheath.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the previous service, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Dartford

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the two previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Dover

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Ramsgate

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • One tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London St. Pancras And Faversham

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Sittingbourne.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed on lines electrified using a third-rail.

This picture shows a Class 395 train at Gravesend station.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International Loop Service

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Martin Mill, Dover Priory, Folkestone Central, Folkestone West, Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International And Ramsgate

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Ramsgate and Broadstairs
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ashford International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between London Bridge and Faversham.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 6 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

  1. This is almost a train every ten minutes all the way from London to Faversham.
  2. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
  3. In addition Ebbsfleet International has four tph to and from London St. Pancras International.

This can be considered the base service to which Crossrail services can be added.

Service Frequency Of Option 1

The first option provides for an extension of Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend, sharing the existing tracks with National Rail services.

  • Of the 12 trains per hour (tph) that are planned to run to Abbey Wood. four tph will terminate at each of Abbey Wood, Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.

This gives a summary as follows.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 20 tph
  • Belvedere – 14 tph
  • Erith – 14 tph
  • Slade Green – 14 tph
  • Dartford – 20 tph to London and 14 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 12 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 14 tph
  • Swanscombe – 12 tph
  • Northfleet – 12 tph
  • Gravesend – 10 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

  1. Train frequencies between Abbey Wood and Northfleet have increased by 8 tph
  2. Train frequencies at Gravesend have increased by 4 tph.
  3. Train frequencies to the East of Gravesend are unchanged.
  4. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
  5. Crossrail has a direct interchange at Gravesend with the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

I am fairly certain that signalling must be improved and train speeds must be increased for Option 1.

Service Frequency Of Option 2

The second option is to draw out Crossrail from south east London to Dartford using new dedicated tracks built next to the existing North Kent line, with increased rail service frequency between Dartford and Northfleet.

  • All the 12 tph, that currently are planned to run ro Abbey Wood, all will terminate at Dartford station.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • I will assume that Southeastern run an extra 4 tph between Dartford and Northfleet.

This gives a summary as follows.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 20 tph
  • Belvedere – 18 tph
  • Erith – 18 tph
  • Slade Green – 18 tph
  • Dartford – 24 tph to London and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 8 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

  1. There is a big increase in services to between Abbey Wood and Dartford.
  2. There is an increase of 4 tph in services between Dartford and Northfleet.
  3. There is no increase in services at Gravesend.
  4. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
  5. Crossrail has no direct interchange with the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

I am fairly certain that signalling must be improved and train speeds must be increased for Option 2.

Service Frequency Of Option 3

A third option consists of improving the National Rail service between Abbey Wood and Northfleet, combined with a new Bus Rapid Transit service.

  • It appears Crossrail services would stay the same at Abbey Wood, with all twelve tph terminating at the station, as are currently planned.
  • Southeastern services to Dartford via Abbey Wood would be extended to Northfleet. This would increase the number of Southeastern trains to/from London serving stations between Northfleet and Dartford for connection to Crossrail at Abbey Wood from four to eight tph.

This gives a summary as follows.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 20 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 8 tph to London and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 8 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

    1. There is a 4 tph increase in services between Abbey Wood and Northfleet.
    2. There is no increase in services at Gravesend.
    3. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
    4. Crossrail has no direct interchange with the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

I am fairly certain that signalling must be improved and train speeds must be increased for Option 3.

Conclusion

I have come to several small conclusions about future services on the North Kent Line.

Improved Signalling

To handle the number of trains required, I am fairly certain that modern digital signalling as used on the central sections of Crossrail and Thameslink, should be installed on the route.

Faster Trains

The operating speed of the North Kent Line is 90 mph, which is not a good fit to the operating speed of the trains.

I’m sure that train capacity would be increased if trains could operate at 90 mph or even 100 mph on the route.

 

Only Option 1 Allows Interchange Between Crossrail And Southeastern HighSpeed Services

Option 1 allows this interchange at Gravesend and it could prove useful, when travelling between North-East Kent and Crossrail stations, including Paddington and Heathrow.

More Services East Of Gravesend

I suspect that there could be extra paths to the East of Gravesend.

These could be either classic or HighSpeed services.

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed Routes, I said this.

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Southeastern Highspeed routes through Kent.

Some principles are laid down.

The article gives an estimate that at least another twenty Class 395 trains are needed of which perhaps three would have batteries for operation along the Marshlink Line between Ashford International and Ore stations.

The new timetable proposed in the article is similar to that now, with the following changes in each hour.

  • All Day – A St. Pancras – Ashford – Dover Priory service runs once per hour and splits at Ashford with one six-car train going to and from Hastings and the other six-car train going to and from Dover Priory.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Ashford – Canterbury West service runs once per hour.
  • All Day –  A new St. Pancras – Ebbsfleet service runs twice per hour.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Gravesend – Strood – Maidstone West service runs once per hour.

In addition all trains passing Thanet Parkway station will stop after it opens.

Note.

  1. Southeastern HighSpeed services will serve Hastings.
  2. Gravesend gets a second Southeastern HighSpeed service to St. Pancras.

I also wrote Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Fawkham Junction Link, which is about a Network Rail proposal to use Victoria as a second terminal for Southeastern HighSpeed services.

Little has been said about using Victoria as a second terminal, but if it was, it could free up space on the North Kent Lines, which would allow more paths for Crossrail.

 

August 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Proposals For Crossrail Elizabeth Line Extension To Ebbsfleet Cut Down To Three Options

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Kent Online.

So what are the three options?

Crossrail To Northfleet/Ebbsfleet And Gravesend

The first option provides for an extension of Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend, sharing the existing tracks with National Rail services.

  • Of the 12 trains per hour (tph) that are planned to run to Abbey Wood. four tph will terminate at each of Abbey Wood, Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • A single platform at Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend would be capable of handling the required four tph.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.
  • It looks like some form of people-mover will be needed between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Gravesend station could either turn the trains directly or have a turnback facility to the East of the station at Hoo, where provision has been made for train stabling.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.

This option would be feasible and would require just a new platform at Northfleet station, the people-mover and perhaps some work at Gravesend station.

Crossrail To Dartford And Northfleet/Ebbsfleet

The second option is to draw out Crossrail from south east London to Dartford using new dedicated tracks built next to the existing North Kent line, with increased rail service frequency between Dartford and Northfleet.

  • All the 12 tph, that currently are planned to run ro Abbey Wood, all will terminate at Dartford station.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • It looks like some form of people-mover will be needed between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.

This option would be feasible and would require a new platform at Northfleet station, the people-mover and a lot of work between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations and at Dartford station.

A Lower Cost Option With Buses

A third option consists of improving the National Rail service between Abbey Wood and Northfleet, combined with a new Bus Rapid Transit service.

  • It appears Crossrail services would stay the same at Abbey Wood, with all twelve tph terminating at the station, as are currently planned.
  • Southeastern services to Dartford via Abbey Wood would be extended to Northfleet. This would increase the number of Southeastern trains to/from London serving stations between Northfleet and Dartford for connection to Crossrail at Abbey Wood from four to eight tph.
  • There would need to be turnback facilities at Northfleet station for the Southeastern services.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.
  • A Bus Rapid Transit service would be provided between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet stations via Slade Green, Dartford and Bluewater.
  • A Bus Rapid Transit service would be provided between Slade Green and Ebbsfleet via Greenhithe and Northfleet.
  • Both Bus Rapid Transit services would have a frequency of six buses per hour.

This option looks to be feasible and would only require a new platform at Northfleet station.

The Views Of New Civil Engineer

This article on New Civil Engineer gives its views on the three options.

It says this of the first option.

This option would require the construction of some sections of additional track and junction works within the existing rail corridor, significant works at Abbey Wood, Slade Green and Dartford stations and require additional land to accommodate additional train stabling facilities.

And this of the second option.

This option would require significant construction work to build a new two track rail alignment alongside the existing North Kent line, requiring potential compulsory purchase of land and property beyond the existing rail corridor in some areas and significant works at Abbey Wood, Slade Green and Dartford stations, as well as the provision of new train stabling facilities.

It doesn’t comment about the third option, which I take to mean, that all work for the trains can be done within the existing rail corridor.

Components Of The Options

Although the options are different there are some components that appear in more than one option.

Improved Digital Signalling

The number of trains running to the East of Abbey Wood station, will surely  increase under all three options and I feel it is essential, that  modern digital signalling be installed on the North Kent Lines.

More Train Stabling

Commenting on the first two options, New Civil Engineer says that more stabling will be needed.

In the Gibb Report, Chris Gibb looked at stabling problems with Thameslink and found there was a problem along the North Kent Line. I wrote about it in Gibb Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

I feel that a review of all train stabling in Kent should be performed, so that there is enough space to service and stable the trains of the various operators.

When Crossrail was originally planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend and Hoo Junction was put forward as somewhere to stable trains.

A Turnback Platform At Northfleet Station

All three options need a turnback platform at Northfleet station.

  • In Option 1 it will be handling Crossrail trains.
  • In Options 2 and 3, it will be handling Southeastern trains.
  • It probably needs to handle four tph.
  • Nine-car Class 345 trains used by Crossrail are 205 metres long.
  • Twelve-car Class 377 trains used by Southeastern are 240 metres long.

This Google Map shows Northfleet station.

Note.

  1. The North Kent Line goes diagonally across the map from North-West to South-East.
  2. Northfleet station is a two-platform station.
  3. To the South of the station, there are sidings, which are connected to the North Kent Line.

 

This picture shows the sidings from Northfleet station, with Ebbsfleet station about a mile away.

It appears that there would be space to add a well-appointed turnback platform at Northfleet station.

These pictures show some of the features of the current Northfleet station.

Rebuilding to add the turnback platform, could also include.

  • Full step-free access
  • Modern station buildings
  • A deep clean of the pedestrian tunnel.
  • An appropriately-sized bus station, with a zero-carbon shuttle bus to Ebbsfleet station.
  • Future provision for a high-tech people-mover to Ebbsfleet station.

It is not one of the better stations on the Southeastern network.

But it certainly could be!

I very much feel that Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with an extra platform.

A People-Mover Between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet Stations

I wrote So Near And Yet So Far! about the poor connection between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

It is a design crime of the highest order.

There has been a lot of pressure in the past to build a pedestrian link between the two stations, as reported by the Wikipedia entry for Northfleet station.

The station is very close to Ebbsfleet International station (the NNE entrance is only 334 yards (305 m) from Northfleet’s station), but passengers (using public transport) will find it far easier to access Ebbsfleet International from Gravesend or Greenhithe, as these stations are more accessible and offer easy access to Fastrack bus services. The walking route between the two stations is 0.6 miles (1 km) or 0.8 miles (1.3 km) and a suitable pedestrian link has not been built because of funding issues and objections from Land Securities.

Why when Ebbsfleet International station was built in the early 2000s for opening in 2007, was a pedestrian link not built between the two stations?

It sounds like it was a Treasury design for Civil Servants, who work in Westminster and wouldn’t dream of living in Gravesend.

How much did omitting the link save?

Probably in the the long term, about two-fifths of five eighths of f***-all!

The specialists in this type of people-mover are the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, who in the UK have built the Emirates Air Line and the Air-Rail Link at Birmingham Airport. Currently, they are building the Luton DART people mover.

Wikipedia says that the Emirates Air-Line cost £60million.

Wouldn’t something similar be an ideal way to welcome people to the UK?

The London Resort

The London Resort, is described like this in its Wikipedia entry.

The London Resort is a proposed theme park and resort in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012 and, if given planning permission, it is estimated that construction will begin in 2022, with a first gate opening in summer 2024 and a second gate by 2029.

It certainly sounds the sort of place I avoid, but just like Disneyland Paris, I feel the developers will want a rail connection.

They could even want to have another people-mover from Ebbsfleet station.

A Connection To The Bluewater Shopping Centre

The Bluewater Shopping Centre is not easy to get to by public transport and requires a bus from Greenhithe for Bluewater station.

Only Option 3 offered an improvement with a bus between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet stations via Slade Green, Dartford and Bluewater, that would run every ten minutes.

Conclusion

It seems that whatever option is eventually chosen, certain works will need to be performed as they are needed for all options.

  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo junction would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.
  • A review of train stabling in Kent should be carried out, to make sure there are enough places to service and stable the trains needed, by all the operators/
  • Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with an extra turnback platform for at least four tph.
  • Provision should be made for a possible people-mover between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

The North Kent Line to the East of Abbey Wood station would now be ready for whichever option is chosen.

Because of the London Resort, which has still not been given a definite go-ahead we could see some changes and other options or even some that combine more than one option.

August 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 7 Comments