The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. I think option 2 is a non starter.
    It might be possible to widen the railway with another set of dedicated tracks from Abbey Wood as far as the next station at Belvedere but from Belvedere through Erith to Slade Green the North Kent Line is hemmed in on both sides by housing, industrial buildings and roads.
    The same applies on the approach to Dartford.
    A four track layout is certainly desirable by due to the geography I don’t think it’s possible.

    Comment by Mark | August 1, 2021 | Reply

    • I would tend to agree. Also, when I see the words compulsory purchase, I say no, as it’s what long-serving residents don’t want.

      I think the choice between 1 and 3 probably comes down to where development takes place.

      Comment by AnonW | August 1, 2021 | Reply

  2. Also, when talking about transit by bus there is no mention of the chaos in the Dartford/Ebbsfleet area when there is a problem or a closure at the Dartford crossing – this occurs very often. Ebbsfleet is being built into a new town, a lot of building happening there at present and a lot has already been built – my daughter lives in one of the new build properties and works in Dartford.
    It isn’t unreasonable to assume that with increased population in the area, traffic will increase, as will the need for good public transport which isn’t delayed every time the crossing is closed. And if there are to be pathways between stations, bus transit stops and people movers, the route to access them, and the paths themselves need to be completely accessible for prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. And TESTED by the people who will use them in that context. I use a mobility scooter, and it is amazing how many places which claim to disability friendly are simply not! This a personal soapbox of mine. As M&S know, because they are appalling for being disability unfriendly.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | August 1, 2021 | Reply

    • It’s getting complicated, which is why with the theme park coming, that I feel Ebbsfleet and Northfleet stations could be connected with a people-mover or a cable-car.

      Comment by AnonW | August 1, 2021 | Reply

  3. One reason Crossrail has separate track in south east London is that its trains operate using AC overhead in an ares dominated by 3rd rail electrification meaning that extension of Crossrail/Elizabeth Line will eith mean making trains duel voltage or installation of overhead wiring along 3rd rail track as was the case on the North London line for a while but problems can arise longer term.

    I also wonder if simply copying the South Eastern line is the right solution or should they look at diverting extension to serve areas not covered by rail and even building new cross river links to provide links in part of London which lacks crossings ?

    Perhaps it’s time for Mayor of London / TFL and DFT to play a more active role

    Hopefully stations on the extension will receive upgrades especially step free access equivalent to the existing Crossrail project!

    Comment by Melvyn | August 1, 2021 | Reply

    • The Class 345 trains can surely be fitted with shoes from the Class 701 trains.

      I believe South East London could be greatly improved with a Penge interchange, that would provide step-free interchange between the East London Line and South Eastern services.

      Comment by AnonW | August 1, 2021 | Reply

  4. Assuming that Gravesend retains it’s pre covid 19 8tph to London terminals, the idea is that a fourth platform can be built at that station to accommodate Crossrail.

    Furthermore, unless London Resort becomes a reality, the idea that thousands of new commuters in the Ebbsfleet Valley, would take a preference of Crossrail over High Speed, is in my view, frankly daft, meaning that there are questions regarding viability on all options, as things stand.

    It is ironic that Gravesham Council received £5m via the Communities Infrastructure Fund (CIF), many years ago, to provide a high quality fixed link from a partially rebuilt Northfleet station to Ebbsfleet International.
    Opposition from the then land owner, Land Securities, put paid to that project.
    How times change!!

    Incidentally, the chances of substantial housing (running into thousands) and commercial growth in East Gravesend, is looking ever more likely – the Albion Waterside development being the first. Opportunities for a masterplan inclusive of a new station, could be on the cards – sooner than one might think.

    Comment by BA | August 21, 2021 | Reply


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