The Anonymous Widower

Up To £3 Billion For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract.

Current estimates gave a cost range of between £1.3 billion and £3 billion, which Mr. Williams said depended on whether services shared tracks with existing Southeastern services east of Abbey Wood or had their own segregated tracks.

Mr. Williams is Transport for London’s Direct of City  Planning; Alex Williams.

This Google Map shows Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.

Note.

  1. The large Ebbsfleet International station towards the bottom of the map.
  2. Northfleet station on the North Kent Line in the North East corner of the map.
  3. The two stations are about five hundred  metres apart as the  crow flies.

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?

How much did omitting the link save?

Luton Airport are building the Luton DART, which is a people mover to  connect Luton Airport Parkway station with the airport.

  • It is 1.4 miles long.
  • It is fully automated.
  • It might have an extra station serving the mid-stay parking.
  • It appears to be taking three years to build.

All of this very comprehensive system appears to be costing around £200 million.

I doubt that a simple pedestrian link, like a bridge with travelators,  would have cost more than a few tens of million pounds.

To me, it is one of the great mysteries of the building of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, that this pedestrian link wasn’t built.

I think, in future, we could come to regret that it wasn’t built along with the rest of Ebbsfleet International station in the early 2000s.

The extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet is about the following.

  • Creating a high-frequency railway to serve all the new housing developments in the Thames Gateway and along the South Bank of the Thames.
  • Connecting  Ebbsfleet International station and other developments around the station to Crossrail.

In some ways, these two objectives are incompatible.

  • To serve the housing developments along the river, the Crossrail extension needs to run roughly along the route of the North Kent Line.
  • To serve Ebbsfleet International station, the route needs to be further inland.

Choosing either route is going to annoy people who live on the other.

For this reason, I feel we need a good old-fashioned British compromise or some very-radical thinking.

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

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, New Eltham, Sidcup, 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, Ashord 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 Ebbslfleet 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

This is almost a train every ten minutes all the way from London to Faversham.

In addition Ebbsfleet International has four tph to and from London St. Pancras International.

Could Extra Services Be Run Along The North Kent Line?

Consider.

  • Six tph is not a high frequency for a relatively simple route like this.
  • The East London Line, which has about the same level of complication easily handles sixteen tph and it is planned to go to twenty tph in the next couple of years.
  • Digital signalling and Automatic Train Control will handle twenty-four tph on Crossrail and Thameslink.
  • Freight trains do not run at a high frequency on the route.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another eight-ten tph added to the route.

How Many Trains Should Terminate At Ebbsfleet?

Currently, Crossrail has six fully-planned and built terminals.

  • Abbey Wood will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 will handle four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 will handle two tph all day
  • Maidenhead will handle two tph all day.
  • Reading will handle four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak
  • Shenfield will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak

It would appear that most terminals only handle between two and four tph.

I very much suspect, that research will show that four tph to and from Ebbsfleet will be sufficient.

It certainly meets the requirement for a Turn-Up-And-Go service, as used by London Overground and Merseyrail.

Possible Terminals For Crossrail In Kent

Wikipedia gives services to Abbey Wood station under Services as follows.

  • Peak – Twelve tph
  • Off Peak – Ten tph

There are several possible terminals for Crossail in Kent

Gravesend Station

When Crossrail was planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend station, with a depot at Hoo Junction to the East.

This section in Wikipedia, which is entitled To Gravesend And Hoo Junction, gives more details. This is the first sentence.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme.

These pictures show Gravesend station.

The station is well-appointed and has good services.

  • The station is close to the Town Centre.
  • It is step-free.
  • There is a West-facing bay platform, which is currently used for a two tph service to Charing Cross.
  • The platforms are very long.
  • HighSpeed commuter services and Thameslink call at the station.

Crossrail services could either terminate in the bay platform or run through the station to a turnback siding at Hoo Junction.

Either way, I’m sure four tph could be easily handled.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International station is named in the title of this post and many are expecting that Crossrail will be extended to the station.

This Google Map shows this station.

Note.

  1. The High Speed platforms 1 to 4, for St. Pancras, Ashford International and the Continent are to the left.
  2. The two separate platforms 5 and 6 for high-speed services to and from North Kent.
  3. The large amount of car parking around the station.

It’s not obvious, where a platform or two for Crossrail could fit in.

The Wikipedia entry for Ebbsfleet International station, says this about Crossrail.

It was formerly planned that Crossrail would terminate at a separate station between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International but under the current plan, Abbey Wood further west will be the eastern terminus. However, a Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend (Hoo Junction) remains safeguarded

Perhaps, Crossrail platforms could be on the Northfleet side of the station, to the North of platforms 5 and 6.

If two platforms are good enough for Abbey Wood station, then surely, two platforms would be sufficient at Ebbsfleet International station.

This Google Map shows where the North Kent Line rrosses the Channel Tunnel Rail Link about five hundred metres North of Ebbsfleet station.

Could a flyover or dive-under be created to create a spur from the North Kent Line, that would allow Crossrail trains to sneak down the Eastern side of the high speed lines to platforms, alongside the current Platforms 5 and 6?

This picture was taken from a train on the bridge that carries the North Kent Line over the high speed lines.

I suspect there is a solution in there somewhere.

One interesting possibility could be for the Crossrail trains to share Platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station with the HighSpeed commuter services to North Kent.

This picture shows the flying junction, where the tracks through Platforms 5 and 6, join the North Kent Line between Northfleet and Gravesend stations.

As currently, only two tph use the link, surely, Crossrail services of four tph could share, if they were to go through Ebbsfleet International and terminate at Gravesend?

I’m not an expert on designing bridges, but to my untrained eye, a flyover to connect the Ebbsfleet loop to the North Kent Line to the West of the station, wouldn’t be much more complicated, than the flyover to the East.

I think, a loop to serve Ebbsfleet would have other advantages.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to and from St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Perhaps, it’s a better idea, than I originally thought?

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station has been designed to handle twelve tph.

The picture shows the four platforms at Abbey Wood station with a Class 345 train in one of the two Crossrail platforms.

  • Two platforms can handle twelve tph.
  • A turnback facility that has been built at the station to handle more trains or service recovery.
  • There are three bridges, two escalators and at least two lifts to facilitate transfer between Crossrail and other services.
  • Platforms are spacious.
  • There is a wide gate line controlling entry to the station.
  • The station is well-served by buses, but car parking is limited.

It is one of the better new stations and would certainly have no problems handling the eight tph, it would need to in the Peak, if four tph, carried on to terminate at Ebbsfleet.

Dartford Station

Dartford station probably has claims to be terminal for Crossrail.

It is a large town, clustered around the station.

There is a lot of new housing close to the station.

It has regularly services to several London terminals, by a variety of routes.

But it appears to be a very cramped station with narrow platforms, as some of these pictures shows.

Services at the station include.

  • Eight tph – Charing Cross
  • Two tph – Victoria
  • Four tph – Gravesend

Thameslink also run two tph between Luton and Rainham.

It is much-more a station where travellers change trains, than one where services terminate..

But even for that it needs improvement.

My Preferred Crossrail Option

I would extend Crossrail to Ebbsfleet in a simple manner, that was capable of being expanded, as traffic needs changed in the future.

Four tph Would Continue Through Abbey Wood Station

I feel that a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet, of four tph would be sufficient, especially if other services on the route, were to be increased in frequency and capacity.

Services Would Terminate At Gravesend Station

The original safeguarded plan for Crossrail to be extended to Gravesend, with a depot at Hoo Junction, is in my mind a good plan.

  • Gravesend station is probably Crossrail-ready.
  • Gravesend station could handle the turnround of Crossrail running at a frequency of four tph.
  • There is plenty of space for a depot at Hoo Junction.

But perhaps most importantly,, it is the original plan suggested in the original design of Crossrail.

Have decisions been made by the various councils on the extended route, based on this plan?

Crossrail Services Would Use The North Kent Line

The extended Crossrail service would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

Frequencies of trains at the stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph

In addition, Gravesend would have ten tph to and from London.

Handling these frequencies on a modern double-track railway shouldn’t be a problem.

Will Digital Signalling Be Needed?

Crossrail and Thameslink are both digitally signalled and will use a degree of Automatic Train Control, to handle up to twenty-four tph.

I could see advantages in applying similar systems to the Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.

Merging Of Services Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Services through both these stations would include.

  • 4 tph – Crossrail between London and Ebbsfleet/Gravesend
  • 2 tph – Thameslink between Luton and Rainham, which don’t stop at Belvedere.
  • 4 tph – Southeastern which are the Dartford Loop service to and from Cannon Street.
  • 2 tph – Southeastern between Charing Cross and Dartford

The current track layout appears to allow Crossrail trains to access the North Kent Line, but Class 345 trains are not fitted with shoes for third-rail elecrification.

This Google Map shows the Western end of Belvedere station.

Note how there appears to be space on either side of the double track, which continues as far as Abbey Wood station.

I suspect that a track layout can be designed between the two stations, so that trains can merge and diverge efficiently between the four tracks at Abbey Wood and the two tracks at Belvedere.

Digital signalling would make it easier.

Station Improvement Between Abbey Wood and Grsvesend Stations

As I indicated earlier, Dartford station would need improvement.

On the other hand Abbey Wood, Greenhithe for Bluewater and Gravesend will need very little modification.

I also suspect, Dartford would not be the only station, that will need improvement.

All stations would be made step-free.

A Loop For Ebbsfleet International Station

I feel that the best way to give access to Ebbsfleet International station would be to create a loop from the North Kent Line and use the current island platform 5 and 6 at the station for Crossrail as well.

The Eastern end of the loop has already been built to a high standard and it would only need a Western connection to be designed and constructed.

I’ll repeat the advantanges of this scheme, I listed earlier.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Each side of the he island platform 5 and 6 would handle.

  • Two tph – HighSpeed commuter services.
  • Four tph – Crossrail services.

They may even be able to handle more trains in the future.

Will Crossrail’s Class 345 Trains Fleet Need Upgrading?

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains have a 90 mph operating speed, as opposed to the 100 mph operating speed of Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Southeastern Class 465 trains are even slower at 75 mph.

If all trains working the North Kent Line were 100 mph trains, it would surely make a robust timetable easier to create and operate.

I would expect that in a few years time, all trains working between London and Kent will be capable of at least 100 mph.

Where Will Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International Services Terminate In The West?

The obvious terminal would surely be Heathrow, as this would give a useful service Heathrow and Continental rail services, without the need to change trains.

Wikipedia is quoting 52 minutes between Heathrow and Abbey Wood on Crossrail and current times give  twenty-three minutes between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations, with perhaps four minutes less to Ebbsfleet in the future.

So timings could be as follows.

  • Heathrow and Ebbsfleet – 75 minutes
  • Heathrow and Gravesend – 79 minutes

Surely, this will be better than struggling around a crowded M25.

Southeastern HighSpeed Commuter Service Improvements

The Southeastern franchise may change later in the year and speculation has started on what this will mean for services and the trains used.

A Revamped HighSpeed Service

In an article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Kent On The Cusp Of Change, some well-founded speculation is made about the future of the HighSpeed commuter service.

  • More Class 395 trains or similar need to be procured.
  • A new service between St. Pancras and Hastings is planned.
  • An all-day service between St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Gravesend.
  • An extra two tph between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet International.
  • A second London terminal may be opened at possibly Waterloo or even Victoria.

Only the Maidstone West service would pass through platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station and would add a third hourly HighSpeed service.

In some ways, it might be better for HighSpeed services to run at four tph between Gravesend and St. Pancras via  Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International, as this would fit much better with a four tph Crossrail service.

Improvements To Stratford International Station

Pedestrian routes between the various services and the Olympic Park at Stratford International station are not good.

  • If HighSpeed services are going to be expanded, then it is only right that Stratford International station is improved, to a good modern connectivity standard.
  • If Stansted Airport and Cambridge services serve Stratford in the future, then there must be an easy pedestrian route between the two services.
  • Connectivity between HighSpeed and Great Eastern Main Line and Crossrail services is particularly poor.
  • The HighSpeed platforms at Stratford International station are bleak and draughty and need improvement.

It’s almost as if, the whole station complex was designed for the Eastfield Shopping Centre.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra HighSpeed sevices.

  • St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Strood.
  • St Pancras and Faversham.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 8 tph to London and 7 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 6 tph
  • Rochester – 8 tph
  • Chatham – 8 tph
  • Gillingham – 8 tph
  • Rainham – 8 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

Thameslink Improvements

My only thought about Thamesink, is that if Crossrail and Southeastern’s HighSpeed services run at a frequency of four tph, through Gravesend, then surely Thameslink should run at the same frequency Between St. Pancras and Rainham.

I say St. Pancras rather than Luton, as it would probably be sensible to send the extra two tph up the East Coast Main Line to either Welwyn Garden City, Peterborough or Cambridge.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra Thameslink sevices.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 12 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 18 tph to London via a variety of routes and 12 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 12 tph
  • Swanscombe – 10 tph
  • Northfleet – 6 tph
  • Gravesend – 10 tph to London and 9 tph to the East
  • Higham – 4 tph
  • Strood – 8 tph
  • Rochester – 10 tph
  • Chatham – 10 tph
  • Gillingham – 10 tph
  • Rainham – 10 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

When you consider that these frequencies are obtained by trains running at 100 mph on a railway, that was most;ly built in the mid-nineteenth century and electrified with 750 VDC third rail before the Second World War.

Southeastern Improvements

Both Southeastern’s Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham and their main line services to East Kent will probably be improved under the new franchise holder

  • New or refurbished 100 mph trains will replace the 75 mph Class 465 trains.
  • Dover and Ramsgate will get increased frequencies from Victoria.
  • Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham will be at least a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • The enhanced performance of the new trains would enable faster services and more stops to be made without degrading the timetable.

I feel that it would not be impossible to see every station between London Bridge and Rainham having twelve tph.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

I am not saying a pedestrian link between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International station shouldn’t be built, but consider that the loop through Ebbsfleet International station gives two routes between Swancombe and Gravesend.; one via Northfleet and the other via Ebbsfleet International.

A lot depends on how many passengers will actually want to travel between the two stations.

  • Those from the West could change at a station like Dartford or Greenhithe for Bluewater to a train going to their required destination.
  • Those from the East could change at Gravesend to a train going to their required destination.

All changes would be same-platform changes and the best stations could be encouraged by coffee kiosks and comfortable waiting rooms.

For passengers starting from Northfleet the following rules would apply.

  • Passengers going East would take the first train and change if required at Bravesend, Rochester or their preferred station.
  • Passengers going West would take the first train and change if required.
  • Passengers going to Ebbsfleet International would probably catch the first train for a single stop and then cross-over to the other platform for a train to Ebbsfleet International.

If there were upwards of six tph on both routes and step-free access at all stations, these procedures would not be unduly tiresome.

Similar rules would apply for those starting their journeys at Ebbsfleet International.

Note that, as more trains ran on both routes between Swanscombe and Gravesend, the time to get between the two stations would decrease.

If as seems to be planned, a lot of housing is built on the undeveloped land between the two stations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a progressively-minded developer build a pleasant tree-lined pedestrian and cycling route between the two stations.

This would be mainly to give easy access to the development to the two stations, but it would also link them together.

Conclusion

Everything, I have written in this post is based on sound facts and is possible with today’s technology.

  • 100 mph suburban electric trains have been around for several decades.
  • Digital signalling has been successfully running on Thameslink in the UK and other places in the world for a couple of years.
  • The construction methods to build a loop at Ebbsfleet station are nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

What I have outlined would be much more of a £1.3 billion project than a £3 billion one!

I also believe everything can be achieved without massive disruption or inconvenience to passengers and probably delivered in full by 2025.

It should be noted that North Kent will be reaping the benefit of three major new cross-London high-capacity railways.

  • The Chanel Tunnel Rail Link between Ebbsfleet International and St. Pancras via Stratford International.
  • Crossrail between Abbey Wood and West London via Canary Wharf, the City and West End of London, Paddington and Old Oak Common.
  • Thameslink between Kent and North of London via London Bridge, Blackfriars and St. Pancras.

As cross-London routes continue to develop in future decades, other commuter routes will benefit from similar strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line

The title of this post is the same as this statement on the Crossrail web site.

These are a few points from the statement.

The Opening Date Of The Central Section

This is a sentence from the statement.

Crossrail Ltd has identified a six-month delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020. Crossrail will be making every effort to deliver the service as early as possible.

Does that meet some date between the 1st October 2020 and 31st March 2021?

And what will open on that date?

There is then this paragraph.

The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak.

Twelve trains per hour (tph) gives a capacity of 18,000 passengers per hour, which compares with the 36 tph and 31,500 passengers per hour of the Victoria Line.

Practically, this means that a twelve tph Crossrail could be carrying sixty percent of the number of passengers of the Victoria Line. It’s better than a kick in the teeth!

But then Dear Old Vicky is the Platinum Standard with lots of encrusted diamonds!

Bond Street Station

This is a sentence from the statement.

It is expected that all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges.

The stations are designed so that trains can pass through, so this is not a problem.

Western Branch Services

This is a paragraph from the statement.

TfL Rail services between Paddington and Reading will commence in December 2019 with a frequency of 4 trains per hour in the peak. Testing of the signalling system continues to allow the new class 345 trains to be extended from Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow.

When Crossrail is fully open, the Western Branch frequencies are planned to be as follows.

  • Reading and Abbey Wood – 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood – 4 tph all day.
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day.

Currently, TfL Rail’s services are as follows.

  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Paddington – 2 tph all day
  • Hayes & Harlington and Paddington – 2 tph all day

It appears that the two Hayes & Harlington services are designed and timed, so they can be extended to Heathrow Terninal 5, with trains leaving Paddington at these times.

  • XX:08 – Heathrow Terminal 4
  • XX:10 – Heathrow Terminal 5
  • XX:23 – Heathrow Terminal 4
  • XX:38 – Heathrow Terminal 4
  • XX:42 – Heathrow Terminal 5
  • XX:53 – Heathrow Terminal 4

Perhaps, if the signalling had worked as intended, we would now be seeing Class 345 trains working as follows.

  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Paddington – 4 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Paddington – 2 tph all day

Once the signalling works as needed and signed off in blood, sweat and tears, the difficult part of the job has been done.

The Reading and Maidenhead services could then be added to the mix. Especially, as no problems have been admitted or rumoured with running to these destinations.

These would mean twelve trains per hour in the Peak and ten trains per hour in the Off Peak needing to be handled at the London end of the Western Branch of Crossrail.

Paddington Station Or Central Tunnel?

The twelve tph in the Peak and ten in the Off Peak is an interesting frequency.

In If Crossrail Opens To Reading In December 2019, How Will It Terminate In Paddington?, I describe how Heathrow and Reading services at a frequency of twelve tph,  could run into Platforms 12 and 14 at Paddington.

This was my conclusion.

Platform 12 and 14 at Paddington could be converted into a two-platform Crossrail station handling seven-car Class 345 trains, at a frequency of twelve tph, with its own gate line.

I’ll ralso epeat this paragraph from the statement.

The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak.

Twelve tph in the Peak is the maximum frequency of the Western Branch into London.

Crossrail have designed a system, where trains can initially terminate in either Paddington or Abbey Wood stations.

Tp give themselves all options and get the Western Branch running, Crossrail would need to complete and certify the following.

  1. Get the signalling working to Heathrow.
  2. Make sure twelve tph could terminate in Paddington.
  3. Make sure twelve tph could run  through the tunnel between Royal Oak and Abbey Wood.

This would mean it would be possible to run twelve tph from Heathrow, Maidenhead and Reading in the West to either Paddington or Abbey Wood in London.

As twelve tph is only one train every five minutes, this surely could be run safely, once the three tasks above are complete and signed off.

Running A Split Service

This is said in the statement.

When the Elizabeth line opens the railway will operate as follows:

  • Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via Central London
  • Liverpool Street (main line station) to Shenfield
  • Paddington (main line station) to Heathrow and Reading

At a first look it appears to be a sensible plan.

  • All three services are independent of each other
  • Liverpool Street and Shenfield is working well and will carry on regardless as long as needed at six tph.
  • The Abbey Wood and Heathrow/Reading services can be run as two independent rail  services.

The following will also get a thorough testing.

  • Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)
  • The interchange tunnel between the Bakerloo Line and Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)
  • The important turnback facility at Royal Oak for trains turning in the Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)

The only problem, is that passengers will have to change trains at Paddington.

Running A Limited Preview Service In The Central Tunnel

Would it be possible to run a preview service in the Central Tunnel, after the following are tested and certified?

  • The turnback facility at Royal Oak
  • Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)
  • The intermediate stations.
  • The operation of trains in the tunnel at twelve tph.
  • Abbey Wood station.
  • The turnback facility at Abbey Wood.

A frequency of four or six tph may give the station systems a thorough testing.

Rolling Out The Full Service

This is a paragraph from the statement.

Once the central section opens, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will commence as soon as possible.

I would assume stations and extra services will be added as soon as testing is complete and drivers and station staff are fully-trained.

Conclusion

The plan is good, as it allows these and other systems to be tested independently.

  • The signalling into Heathrow.
  • Twelve tph trains to and from Heathrow, Maidenhead and Reading.
  • Operation of the platforms in Paddington (main line station)
  • Operation of the turnback facility at Royal Oak
  • Operation of the platforms in Paddington (Elizabeth line station)
  • Handling of twelve tph and the signalling in the Central Tunnel.
  • Operation of the turnback facility at Abbey Wood.

I wouldn’t be surprised, that if all goes well, we may be seeing a very limited Crossrail service earlier than anybody currently thinks.

It would also appear to get the Western and Shenfield branches working independently to provide much needed, more frequent and quality services,.

These will then be joined by services in the Central Tunnel, which initially will be run independently.

As I said earlier a twelve tph Crossrail between Paddington and Abbey Wood through the Central Tunnel, would carry sixty percent of the passengers of the Victoria Line!

 

April 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Abbey Wood Station – 7th October 2018

I took these pictures at Abbey Wood station.

It is now nearing completion and there are some nice details.

  • There are some elegant wood seats and other details.
  • The signage is clear and an update on current London Underground designs.
  • There are lots of stairs, escalators and lifts.
  • It must also be the only station with a wooden safety fence between the tracks.

All it needs now is some Crossrail trains.

Let’s hope the other stations are as good.

 

October 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

London To Rainham And Back On Thameslink

Today was the first Monday of a new timetable and I took a trip to Rainham (Kent) station from London Bridge on the new Thameslink service,, before returning to Abbey Wood station.

Note.

  1. I took a picture at each station as we went out to Rainham.
  2. There is a lot of housing and commercial development going on by Dartford and Rochester stations.
  3. Thameslink are scheduled to run trains between Luton and Rainham (Kent) stations every thirty minutes.
  4. There were two Class 345 trains at Abbey Wood station.
  5. I went in a Class 700 train with eight-cars.

There was the odd cancelled train on the route, but what surprised me on the return journey, was that my train passed four Class 700 trains going in the other direction.

I must assume, that Thameslink were training more drivers for the route.

The Service I Took

The Thameslink service between Luton and Rainham, that I took from London Bridge to Rainham is a replacement for the Southeastern service between Charing Cross and Gillingham.

  • Both services use the same route between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services stop everywhere between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services are well-connected to other services at Abbey Wood (Crossrail), Woolwich Arsenal (DLR), Greenwich (DLR) and London Bridge (Northern and Jubilee).
  • The previous Southeastern service took 66 minutes between London Bridge and Gillingham,
  • The current Thameslink service is timetabled to take 82 minutes.
  • The Thameslink service takes over forty minutes to turn round at Rainham.

Given that the Thameslink Class 700 trains are 100 mph trains and the previous Class 465 trains are only 75 mph trains, I find it extraordinary that faster and more modern trains are delivering a slower service.

Complaints

There have been complaints about the new timetable, so I asked a couple of station staff, what they felt about the new Thameslink service from Luton to Rainham.

They seemed in favour and added, these points about the service.

  • It would help with getting the service out of trouble, when there were delays East of Rainham.
  • It gives a direct connection to Dartford.
  • The extra capacity will help.

The service to Rainham will surely act as a collector service for those changing to Crossrail at Abbey Wood.

Rainham to Bond Street with a change at Abbey Wood, should be under an hour and a half.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Abbey Wood Station – 21st May 2018

Abbey Wood station has been progressing and I took these pictures.

The layout of the connecting bridges between the Crossrail and North Kent Line platforms is now clear.

  • At the London End, there is a simple footbridge, with steps to each pair of platforms.
  • At the Main Entrance End, there are wide steps and a lift between the station ticket hall and each pair of platforms.
  • The third bridge in the middle is the unusual one with wide steps and a single escalator to each pair of platforms.

I would assume, that the direction of the escalators is as follows.

  • In the Morning Peak, the North Kent Line escalator is set to Up and the Crossrail escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from the North Kent Line to Crossrail.
  • In the Evening Peak, the Crossrail escalator is set to Up and the North Kent Line escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from Crossrail to the the North Kent Line.
  • At other times with less traffic, both escalators would be set to Up.

I have seen a lot of station layouts all over the UK and Europe and never one like this.

I doubt, I’ve even seen a pair of platforms connected by three separate bridges too!

Could it be a design of genius to allow thousands of passengers to change between the two pairs of platforms in a short space of time?

Other station layouts that enable this rate of passenger transfer, like the interchange between Crossrail and the Central Line at Stratford station, arrange for a cross-platform interchange, with lines going in the same direction sharing a common platform.

But that arrangement would have been difficult at Abbey Wood, unless perhaps the Crossrail tunnel emerged closer to the station or a flyover or dive-under were to be built.

Both options would have required more space and would have been a lot more expensive.

The design of Abbey Wood station with its three footbridges and wide platforms, would appear to be a more affordable alternative.

Train Length

In some of the pictures, a Class 345 train is shown in one of the Crossrail platforms.

This is a full-length train, which is 205 metres long.

The pictures show just how long these trains are.

LED Lights On The Stairs

Three of the pictures in the bottom row, show the stair handrails with their light underneath.

I Like them.

 

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

TfL In Talks Over Extending Crossrail Eastwards

The title of this article is the sam as that of this article on Construction News.

The article talks about the following.

  • Extending from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet International.
  • TfL has had discussions with Network Rail.

Serious talks may well happen, once the new Southeastern Franchise takes over later this year.

 

April 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How To Recycle A Station

Hanborough station on the Cotswold Line in Oxfordshire in being expanded.

Wikipedia says this, about theplans announced in 2016.

Plans were announced to increase services from Hanborough Station, by Great Western Railway. A launch event was held in Witney, at which GWR’s managing director Mark Hopwood said that the investment needed was £275 million. Double tracking would be reinstated between North Oxford and Long Hanborough and two disused platforms reopened. The local constituency MP and Prime Minister David Cameron told delegates at the meeting ” am utterly convinced of the necessity of investing in this line. I will do everything I can to give this vision a boost.”

This article on IanVisits, is entitled How Crossrail’s Legacy Could End Up In Rural Oxfordshire.

The article describes how the temporary station at Abbey Wood station, during Crossrail construction.

My picture comes from a post called Crossrail Build A Temporary Station.

The station buildings that could go to Hanborough are on the right behind the fence.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Abbey Wood Station Opens

Abbey Wood Station partly opened today.

As can be seen, it is not finished, but it can certainly accept all the Southeastern trains calling at the station.

Is it the UK’s first station with three pedestrian bridges and six lifts?

October 24, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Abbey Wood Station – 30th July 2017

I took these pictures at Abbey Wood staeion.

Note my other post about Abbey Wood station called Construction Of The Platform Structures And Tracks For Crossrail At Abbey Wood Was Cimpleted By Network Rail In May 2017, which was based on a picture caption in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Does this also include the electrification?

It now appears that West of the station, the electrification runs all the way to the tunnel entrance. But the electrification is treated differently in the two Crossrail platforms.

  • In Platform 3, which traditionally would be the London-bound platform, the wires go under the station bridge and finish on a single vertical gantry. Conveniently, it’s shown in the last picture in the gallery.
  • In Platform 4, which is the Northernmost platform, the wires are fixed to the station building. This is shown in the penultimate picture in the gallery.

So it would appear, that Crossrail trains can only go East of the station under electric power  only using the track through Platform 3.

I couldn’t see if there was any connection between the track through Platform 4 and that through Platform 3, but there was also some supports for the old bridge in the way.

There would need to be a connection, if the track to the East of the station was to be used as a reversing siding.

What is now clear is that the station must be one of the few stations with three footbridges.

  • There is the main one at the East containing the main station building, which probably has lifts.
  • One in the middle of the platforms, which looks like it might have lifts.
  • There is a smaller footbridge at the Western end of the station.

According to this page on the Crossrail web site the station has a total of six lifts.

I suspect the number of lifts is because the site and the track layout, mean that it has not been possible to organise cross-platform interchange bettween Crossrail and the North Kent Line.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Construction Of The Platform Structures And Tracks For Crossrail At Abbey Wood Was Cimpleted By Network Rail In May 2017

The title of this post, was stated under a picture in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

The picture had been taken on site from the other side of the fence through the station to this picture I took in July 2017.

My later picture shows some of the canopies for the Crossrail platforms in position.

If Network Rail’s statement that formed the title of this post is correct, then is  the track layout to the East of the station complete?

This picture shows the unelectrified line leading away from the station.

Note the track without any electrification by the fence in the right foreground and the two third-rail electrified North Kent tracks in the left background.

This picture shows the track going towards Belvedere station.

Note the cross-over by the signal.

Can Crossrail Reverse All The Scheduled Trains At Abbey Wood?

Crossrail have now published a more detailed schedule for the services.

The schedule shows that a maximum of twelve trains need to be reversed at each of Abbey Wood, Paddington and Shenfield stations.

In this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Signalling Crossrail.

The Class 345 trains are fitted with a system called Auto-Reverse, which I explained in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse.

The driver selects auto-reverse and walks back through the train, as it changes platforms automatically. By the time the driver is in the other cab, the train is in position in the other platform, ready to go back to London.

But the article in Rail Engineer also says this.

Auto reverse (AR) is not provided on Network Rail infrastructure. There will also be the possibility to use AR into and out of the stabling sidings at Abbey Wood so the driver will be at the correct end of the train to finish a shift or, when coming on duty, to start a new run westwards. Service trains will, however, normally reverse in the station. AR may also be used at Custom House and anywhere using crossovers in the central section.

As the normal twelve trains per hour (tph) making up the service, will be using both platforms, cross-overs are provided to the West of Abbey Wood station, as is shown in this picture.

The system used at Abbey Wood will also be used at Shenfield.

Why Has The Reversing Siding Not Been Electrified?

In my view there can only be two explanations, if Modern Railways have got their picture caption right, which categorically said work was finished.

  • My reconnaissance was wrong.
  • Full electrification is not needed to reverse the trains.

On digging deeper, I took these four pictures at Abbey Wood station.

The pictures show in order.

  • The overhead wires for Platform 4 fixed to the station building. Look under the top of the staircase.
  • The overhead wires for Platform 3 passing under the station building.
  • The overhead wires for Platform 3 passing under the station building.
  • The overhead wires for Platform 3 anchored to a solid girder on the other side of the station building.

I couldn’t see the track layout because the wooden fence was in the way, but it would seem logical that the track through Platform 4 will eventually connect to the track through Platform 3.

This would allow the following.

  • Trains arriving in Platform 4 to transfer to Platform 3 using the reversing siding.
  • Crossrail trains to continue East on the North Kent Line using the single track and the crossovers to the East of the station.
  • A failed train could be pushed into the reversing siding, which could probably accommodate two trains.
  • Service and maintenance trains to access Crossrail’s Plumstead depot from the East.

But even if there is no connection, two independent platforms can handle the twelve trains per hour, as they will do at Shenfield.

 

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment