The Anonymous Widower

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Connecting North Kent Line Services To The Central Tunnel At Abbey Wood

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Abbey Wood.

Note.

  1. The Elizabeth Line is shown in purple.
  2. The North Kent Line is shown in black.
  3. The North Kent Line platform to London is the Southernmost platform and is numbered 1.
  4. The North Kent Line platform from London is the other Southern platform and is numbered 2.
  5. The Elizabeth Line platforms are numbered 3 and 4.
  6. Platform 4 is the Northernmost platform.

At present the Elizabeth Line service to Abbey Wood station is twelve trains per hour (tph), with each platform handling six tph.

This picture shows trains in both Platform 3 and 4 looking towards the station buildings.

Note.

  1. Platform 3 is on the right.
  2. Platform 4 is on the left.

In Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion, I talk about this proposal as described in this article on Ian Visits.

One of the key features of Crossrail To Ebbsfleet (C2E) project is that instead of all trains terminating at Abbey Wood, trains will terminate as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 4 tph

This will mean that 8 tph would pass through Abbey Wood station.

  • Platform 4 could certainly handle the four tph that terminated on the Elizabeth Line.
  • Platform 3 would need to handle eight tph in both directions or sixteen tph to fulfil the proposed C2E service.
  • This would be one train every 225 seconds.

I believe that digital signalling could handle this easily and safely.

I am fairly sure that the track layout at Abbey Wood allows eight tph to go both ways between the North Kent Line and the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.

The Maximum Capacity At Abbey Wood Station

Because of the current track layout at Abbey Wood, I believe that without track modifications, Abbey Wood station will not be able to handle more than 12 tph.

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extending The Elizabeth Line – High Speed Trains On The Elizabeth Line

This may seem rather fanciful, but could it be the way to maximise the use of the Elizabeth Line?

  • I feel that the Elizabeth Line will eventually serve other destinations like Basingstoke, Beaulieu, Oxford, Southend and Swindon.
  • The capacity of the Elizabeth Line will grow to over thirty trains per hour (tph) under control of digital signalling.

These are a few thoughts.

The Design Of The Trains

As any train would have to be compatible with the platform-edge doors in the central tunnel of the Elizabeth Line, the trains would have to be dimensionally identical to the current Class 345 trains.

  • Nine cars
  • Possibility of lengthening to ten cars.
  • 204.73 metres long.
  • 6 sets of doors per carriage
  • Ability to run under full digital signalling.

They would be designed for a higher speed of at least 110 or 125 mph, to enable running on the fast lines of these routes.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

They would also be able to run at 100 mph on the Chiltern Main Line, the Great Eastern Main Line and the North Kent Line.

The faster running would ease scheduling of the trains.

Extra facilities could include.

  • Toilets
  • Tables
  • A third-rail capability for running in Kent.

Effectively, it would be a Class 345 train with more features and considerably more grunt.

Note that in A High Speed Train With An IPEMU-Capability, I started the post with the following.

Bombardier were reported by Ian Walmsley in the April 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, to be developing Aventra, with a 125 mph capability.

Bombardier have also told me, that all Aventras will be wired so they could be fitted with on-board energy storage.

Could it be that the design of a Class 345 train could be modified to run at higher speeds? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Oxford To Southend Victoria

This could be a typical route.

  • Between Oxford and Paddington, it would follow a route similar to the GWR’s Oxford service with stops at just Reading and Slough.
  • At Paddington the train would take the Central Tunnel of the Elizabeth Line and travel under London, at the same speed as the other trains.
  • It would emerge at Stratford and move to the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • It would probably stop at Stratford, Romford, Shenfield and all stations to Southend Victoria.

Note.

  1. Digital signalling would enforce the precise timekeeping needed.
  2. Much of the Oxford and Paddington section would be up to speeds of at least 125 mph.
  3. Times in the Central Tunnel of the Elizabeth Line would be identical to the current Class 345 trains.
  4. Much of the Stratford and Southend section would be up to speeds of at least 100 mph.

I estimate that total time would be a few minutes under two hours.

Connecting To The Central Tunnel Of The Elizabeth Line At Royal Oak

I discuss this in Extending The Elizabeth Line – Connecting Great Western Main Line Services To The Central Tunnel.

Connecting To The Central Tunnel Of The Elizabeth Line At Stratford

I discuss this in Extending The Elizabeth Line – Connecting Great Eastern Main Line Services To The Central Tunnel.

 

 

Connecting To The Central Tunnel Of The Elizabeth Line At Abbey Wood

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Abbey Wood.

Note.

  1. The Elizabeth Line is shown in purple.
  2. The North Kent Line is shown in black.
  3. The North Kent Line platform to London is the Southernmost platform and is numbered 1.
  4. The North Kent Line platform from London is the other Southern platform and is numbered 2.
  5. The Elizabeth Line platforms are numbered 3 and 4.
  6. Platform 4 is the Northernmost platform.

At present the Elizabeth Line service to Abbey Wood station is twelve tph, with each platform handling six tph.

This picture shows trains in both Platform 3 and 4 looking towards the station buildings.

Note.

  1. Platform 3 is on the right.
  2. Platform 4 is on the left.

In Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion, I talk about this proposal as described in this article on Ian Visits.

One of the key features of Crossrail To Ebbsfleet (C2E) project is that instead of all trains terminating at Abbey Wood, trains will terminate as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 4 tph

This will mean that 8 tph would pass through Abbey Wood station.

  • Platform 4 could certainly handle the four that terminated on the Elizabeth Line.
  • Platform 3 would need to handle eight tph in both directions or sixteen tph to fulfil the proposed C2E service.
  • This would be one train every 225 seconds.

I believe that digital signalling could handle this easily and safely.

I am fairly sure that the track layout at Abbey Wood allows eight tph to go both ways between the North Kent Line and the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.

The Maximum Capacity At Abbey Wood Station

Because of the current track layout at Abbey Wood, I believe that without track modifications, Abbey Wood station will not be able to handle more than 12 tph.

Thameslink

These proposed trains would also be compatible with Thameslink, as this route has no platform edge doors.

No platform extensions would be needed, as the Class 345 trains are shorter than the 12-car Class 700 trains.

If they were 125 mph trains, then this would ease timetabling on the East Coast Main Line, as the trains could mix it with the expresses on the fast lines.

Could These High Speed Trains For The Elizabeth Line Have A Cruising Speed Of 140 mph?

It is likely, when full authority digital ERTMS signalling is installed on main lines out of London, that 140 mph will be possible on some at least these routes.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

The extra speed would maximise capacity.

August 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Channel Crossing Problem

My company provided the project management computer system; Artemis, that planned how both the tunnel and the rail link to London was built. So I heard numerous stories of inadequate infrastructure on both sides of the Channel.

I also for a time was a business partner of the man, who had been project manager on a previous attempt to build a Channel Tunnel, that was cancelled by Harold Wilson’s government in 1975, who had a lot of interesting input.

I have heard over the years of these inadequacies,

  • The Dartford Crossing wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic generated at busy times.
  • The Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone wasn’t built large enough.
  • The port of Dover is too small.
  • The roads to the Port of Dover were inadequate.
  • The rail terminal at St. Pancras doesn’t have the capacity to run services to the places that are better served by train.

The government only has one major improvement in place, which is a new Thames Crossing, but that will only make matters worse, as more traffic will be tempted to cross the Channel to get to Europe.

It is my belief, that we need more innovative services to provide more capacity.

  • A German company called CargoBeamer, is developing a system, whereby unaccompanied freight trailers can be moved thousands of miles across Europe by rail. Their plans include services to Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Scotland.
  • I would also run a CargoBeamer service from Calais to Holyhead to create a direct freight service between Ireland and Europe.
  • Ebbsfleet needs to be developed as a destination for the Elizabeth Line and an extra terminal for both daytime and sleeper trains to Europe.
  • High speed freight trains, based on existing 160 mph EMUs could be used.
  • Given the position of the new Thames Crossing on the Isle of Grain, perhaps a new ferry port could be built on the island to partially replace Dover.
  • Could some Eurotunnel services start from Watford Gap?

We have to be bold.

July 24, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

A Trip To Northfleet

Yesterday, I went to Northfleet station.

Partly, it was to have a drink with my old friend; Ian, but mainly it was to take some pictures to add to Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion.

Normally, when I go to see Ian I take the HighSpeed service out of St. Pancras.

But this service is expensive and as I was leaving from Moorgate, I decided to take the Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood and get a train to Northfleet station instead.

I have a few thoughts on my journey.

Cost

I used my Freedom Pass to Abbey Wood and then bought an Off Peak Day Return between Abbey Wood and Northfleet for just £4.95 with a Senior Railcard.

Convenience

As you have to use one of the bridges at Abbey Wood to change to and from the Elizabeth Line, I used the one at the station end and popped through the barrier to buy my onward ticket from a machine.

Surely, Freedom Passes should be linked to a bank account, so if you want to stray outside Zone 6, you are automatically charged.

Elizabeth Line Messages On Southeastern

At Swanscombe station today, whilst waiting for my Thameslink train to take me back to Abbey Wood, I noticed that the displays were telling passengers to change at Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth Line.

You certainly wouldn’t use the dreadful Swanscombe station with heavy cases, but stations like Abbey Wood, Dartford, Gravesend and others would enable granny or grandpa to take a sensible-size wheeled case to Heathrow Airport with reasonable ease, once the Elizabeth Line becomes a fully-connected railway between Abbey Wood and Heathrow.

Onward Trains At Abbey Wood

There are two easy onward Thameslink tph at Abbey Wood, that run at sixteen and forty-six minutes past the hour.

You can also take the first Dartford train and then take the first train from there.

If you get the Thameslink train from Abbey Wood timings are as follows.

  • Slade Green – 6 minutes
  • Dartford – 11 minutes
  • Stone Crossing – 16 minutes
  • Greenhithe – 18 minutes
  • Swanscombe – 21 minutes
  • Northfleet – 23 minutes
  • Gravesend – 27 minutes
  • Higham – 33 minutes
  • Strood – 39 minutes
  • Rochester – 42 minutes
  • Chatham – 45 minutes
  • Gillingham – 50 minutes
  • Rainham – 55 minutes

Note.

  1. There are also two Southeastern tph between Charing Cross and Gravesend, but they don’t serve Abbey Wood.
  2. The timings appeared sensible in my two trips; yesterday and today.
  3. Travellers also have a choice in that they can use the more expensive HighSpeed services to selected stations.

After just missing a Thameslink train today by a few seconds, and then had to wait thirty minutes for the next train, I am convinced that there needs to be a four tph service between Abbey Wood and Rainham.

Four tph Between Rainham And Abbey Wood

In Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line, I said this about Western branch services.

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.

This includes 6 tph between Heathrow and Abbey Wood all day.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet is proposing that the South-Eastern branch will terminate as follows.

  • 4 tph – Abbey Wood
  • 4 tph – Northfleet
  • 4 tph – Gravesend

So will this mean that the six tph to Heathrow will be split equally between Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend, with two Heathrow tph terminating at each terminal?

The North Kent Metro

My naive mind thinks, why don’t the two Heathrow and Gravesend services terminate at Rainham?

This would give the following.

  • The minimum four tph between Abbey Wood and Rainham.
  • Rainham should be able to turnback for tph.
  • Services would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.

North Kent would have its own metro running under London Overground rules.

It could even start as soon as Class 345 trains are allowed to run to Rainham.

Airport Connect

Consider

  • The Elizabeth Line service between Abbey Wood and Rainham could serve Heathrow at its Western end.
  • The Thameslink service would serve Luton Airport Parkway.
  • Both services would serve Liverpool Street for the Stansted Express and services to and from Southend Airport.
  • Both services would serve Farringdon for services to and from Gatwick Airport.
  • An extra station at Silvertown could serve London City Airport.
  • In future, there could even be a connection to High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

One service on the Elizabeth Line would connect all these together.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dartford Station – June 27th 2022

I took these pictures as I passed through Dartford station yesterday.

Note.

  1. Dartford station is close to the town centre.
  2. I grabbed a coffee in the nearby shopping centre.
  3. The station has four platforms.
  4. The station has full step-free access.

The station was rebuilt in 2013.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Stone Crossing Station – June 27th 2022

I changed trains yesterday at Stone Crossing station and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. It is a basic station with two long platforms.
  2. There is a bridge at one end.
  3. More houses are being built nearby, behind the trees.

It needs upgrading to the Twentieth Century.

A Second Visit To Stone Crossing Station

As I wanted to look at the footbridge, I went back again today.

This looks very much like an interim design to get passengers and pedestrians across the line safety.

A Crossrail To Ebbsfleet Station

This station will need to be made step-free, if Crossrail is extended to Ebbsfleet station.

The station will be handling ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

 

 

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Northfleet Station – June 27th 2022

This Google Map shows Northfleet station.

Note.

  1. The two tracks through the station are the North Kent Line.
  2. The other two tracks are freight sidings.
  3. The car-parks at Ebbsfleet station are in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. There appears to be a large cleared site to the North-West of the station.

These pictures show the station.

Northfleet station is best characterised by a series of negatives.

  • No step-free access from street-to-platform.
  • No step-free access from platform-to-train.
  • No train information on the London-bound platform.
  • No toilets.
  • No ticket office.
  • No staff
  • Not enough seats.
  • Not enough car parking.
  • Not enough trains.

The only thing that is ready for Crossrail are the long platforms, which will take a 240 metre long train.

A Crossrail To Ebbsfleet Station

This station will need to be made step-free, if Crossrail is extended to Ebbsfleet station.

The station will be handling ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions, with 4 tph terminating at the station.

I suspect new platforms will be built to accommodate the terminating trains.

 

June 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Swanscombe Station – June 27th 2022

I went to Swanscombe station today and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The station is just two long platforms with steps down from the road, that goes across the bridge, that is shown in the pictures.
  2. Whilst I was at the station, a couple had great difficulty bringing a baby in a buggy down the stairs on the Eastbound platform.

This Google Map shows the station in detail.

This station is a real insult to anybody with reduced mobility.

A Second Visit To Swanscombe Station

As it was so bad, I went back again today.

As it’s Tennis Time – You Cannot Be Serious!!

A Crossrail To Ebbsfleet Station

This station will need to be made step-free, if Crossrail is extended to Ebbsfleet station.

The station will be handling ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

 

June 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

These is the first paragraph.

A report looking at transport upgrades across the southeast of England suggests that extending the Elizabeth line into Kent would cost around £3.2 billion. The report, by Transport for the South East (TfSE) also supports the proposal and looks at how it could be funded.

This image from the Abbeywood2Ebbsfleet consultation, shows the proposal.

Note, that there doesn’t appear to be too much new infrastructure, except for a proper connection between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations. References on the Internet, say that the similar-sized Luton DART connection at Luton Airport, cost around £225 million.

As the quoted cost is £3.2 billion, I would assume, that  installation of digital signalling on the North Kent Line and the trains that use it, is one of the major costs.

I have some thoughts.

Improvement Is Needed

There are endless jokes, which have a punchline something like, “If you want to go to X, I wouldn’t start from here.”

On Monday, I intend to go to visit my friend; Ian, who lives at Longfield in Kent. Abbey Wood is the nearest Elizabeth Line station to Longfield and it is only seventeen miles away from Abbey Wood, but the quickest way you can do it by train is 64 minutes with a change at Rochester or 79 minutes going back into London and coming out from Victoria.

As before, I leave London, I will be having breakfast with another friend in Moorgate, the Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood will be a good place to start.

If I got the trains right, I can get between Moorgate and Northfleet in 41 minutes. Northfleet is just 5.5 miles from Longfield.

If Ian, wants to go to London, he usually drives to Ebbsfleet, where there is lots of parking and gets the Highspeed trains to Stratford or St. Pancras. Trains take 12 and 19 minutes to and from the two London termini, but go nowhere near to Canary Wharf, the City of London, Liverpool Street, Oxford Street, Paddington, West London and Heathrow.

I believe that for Ian and the other nearly million residents of West Kent, that the following should be done as soon as possible.

  • Extend the Elizabeth Line to Gravesend, which would give 300,000 more people a local Elizabeth Line station.
  • Build a people-mover between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations, which would create a high-capacity rail hub for North-West Kent, with connections to London, Heathrow and the Continent, and massive parking.

Heathrow and Northfleet would take under an hour and a quarter on a direct train.

Current Services Between Abbey Wood And Gravesend

Currently, these services run at some point on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood And Gravesend stations.

  • Southeastern – London Cannon Street and London Cannon Street  – 2 tph – Via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Southeastern – London Cannon Street and Dartford – 2 tph – Via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green and Dartford.
  • Southeastern – London Charing Cross and Gravesend – 2 tph – Via Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet and Gravesend.
  • Southeastern HighSpeed – London St Pancras and Ramsgate via Faversham – 1 tph – Via Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend.
  • Thameslink – Luton and Rainham – 2 tph – Via Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet and Gravesend.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. I have only indicated stations, where trains stop between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.

Aggregating these trains gives the following totals for each station.

  • Abbey Wood – 6 tph
  • Belvedere – 4 tph
  • Erith – 4 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 6 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 5 tph

As stations get at least four tph, with more important ones getting 5 or 6 tph, it appears to be a well-constructed timetable.

Effect Of Changing The London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street From The Erith Loop To A Dartford Service

This should make no difference to the numbers, as the service is now clear of the Elizabeth Line after Slade Green.

Effect Of Cutting Back The London Charing Cross and Gravesend Service To Dartford

This service between London Charing Cross and Gravesend has a frequency of 2 tph and calls at Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet and Gravesend.

Cutting it back to Dartford adjusts the totals as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 6 tph
  • Belvedere – 4 tph
  • Erith – 4 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 4 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 2 tph
  • Greenhithe – 2 tph
  • Swanscombe – 2 tph
  • Northfleet – 2 tph
  • Gravesend – 3 tph

Some of the frequencies have halved.

Effect Of Adding Eight tph To Northfleet And Four tph To Gravesend On The London Charing Cross and Gravesend Service

The Elizabeth Line Extension is proposed to add the following trains to the service.

  • 8 tph will continue from Abbey Wood to Northfleet.
  • 4 tph will continue from Abbey Wood to Gravesend.

This adjusts the totals as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 6 tph
  • Belvedere – 12 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 14 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 10 tph
  • Northfleet – 10 tph ( 4 tph – Terminating, 6 tph – Passing through)
  • Gravesend – 7 tph ( 4 tph – Terminating, 3tph – Passing through)

Note.

  1. These surely are frequencies, that will satisfy the most picky traveller.
  2. There are freight trains running on the route.
  3. The tightest section would appear to be between Abbey Wood and Dartford, although Dartford and Northfleet is only two tph less.
  4. West of Northfleet it gets easier.
  5. But I do think though, that full digital signalling between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be able to handle it.
  6. 14 tph is a frequency that is less than that of the central sections of the East London Line, the Elizabeth Line and Thameslink.
  7. I have flown my virtual helicopter along the line and there may be places to add a third track, which would add more capacity.

I believe that it is possible to achieve the passenger train frequencies in the last table.

Abbey Wood East Junction

This Google Map shows the track layout to the East of Abbey Wood station.

Note.

  1. There are crossovers so trains can run between the Elizabeth Line platforms on the North side of Abbey Wood station and the North Kent Line.
  2. There is space on either side of the railway.
  3. I have my doubts that the current track layout would be able to handle twelve Elizabeth Line, six North Kent Line and possibly a freight train in every hour, especially where flat junctions are involved.

I can see a flyover or dive-under being built in this area to handle the trains efficiently.

Abbey Wood Power Change-Over

Some thoughts.

  • I will assume, that the change-over between 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail power will take place in or near Abbey Wood station.
  • This would avoid any erection of electrification gantries to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • If the Office of Road and Rail refuse to allow any more third rail, I could see a Headbolt Lane solution being applied, where batteries are used to bridge the 1.4 mile gap between Abbey Wood station with its 25 KVAC overhead electrification and Belvedere station with its 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • North Kent Line trains would take their existing route between Abbey Wood and Belvedere stations.
  • Also, if a comprehensive and efficient track layout is used here, then there might be cost savings if the Elizabeth Line trains supplied their own power from batteries.

An efficient junction to the East of Abbey Wood station, coupled with well-thought out electrification could be key to successfully handling the nearly 20 tph at Abbey Wood station.

Belvedere, Erith And Slade Green Stations

Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green stations are on a double-track section of the line.

  • The three stations are not step-free.
  • There appear to be a lot of industrial sites, that could be developed for housing.
  • There might be the possibility of adding an extra track in places.
  • Luckily, there are no level crossings.
  • There are some footbridges over the railway, that probably need updating to step-free

I suspect that developing the housing on this route will be most important.

Slade Green Depot

This Google Map shows Slade Green depot and the large triangular junction opposite the depot.

Note.

  1. Slade Green station is at the top of the map.
  2. Slade Green depot is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The West point of the junction leads to Bexleyheath.
  4. The West and North points of the junction are connected by the Erith Loop.
  5. The South point of the junction leads to Dartford.

There are rail capacity problems in this area.

  • Slade Green depot is not big enough.
  • One train service goes both ways on the Erith Loop between Slade Green and Bexleyheath every thirty minutes, which could be a block on increasing train frequencies between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • The proposal is saying that the Slade Green and Bexleyheath service will go via Dartford station, where it will probably reverse.

I can see comprehensive redevelopment of the depot and the junction to remove the capacity problems and perhaps build a lot of housing.

  • If the Erith Loop is not used could the centre of the junction be developed with a much-needed extension to the depot?
  • The depot might be moved elsewhere or perhaps rebuilt with tower blocks on the top.

I think that moving the Slade Green and Bexleyheath service via Dartford could mean that the Erith Loop isn’t needed, so this might free up space to increase the size of the depot.

Dartford Station

This Google Map shows Dartford station and the area around the station.

Note.

  1. The station has four long platforms.
  2. It should be able to handle the 12 tph in both directions.
  3. There is a lot of new developments by the station.
  4. The station is step-free.
  5. There are some pictures of Dartford station in Dartford Station – June 27th 2022.

But I do suspect that the station probably needs extra capacity and a substantial rebuild.

Stone Crossing, Greenhithe And Swanscombe Stations

Stone Crossing, Greenhithe and Swanscombe stations will be handling 10 tph.

  • Greenhithe is a new station with full step-free access.
  • But Stone Crossing and Swanscombe stations may need improvement to bring them up to Elizabeth Line standards.
  • More details of Stone Crossing station are given in Stone Crossing Station – June 27th 2022.
  • More details of Greenhithe station are given in Bluewater Shopping Centre By Train.
  • More details of the current state of Swanscombe station are given in Swanscombe Station – June 27th 2022.
  • The one level crossing in the area was closed in 2018.
  • There may be scope to add an extra track at places in this section.

I feel that these three stations could be fairly easy to bring up to the required standards.

Northfleet Station

Northfleet station is a station, which in the words of estate agent; Roy Brooks, would have a lot of potential.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The two tracks through the station are the North Kent Line.
  2. The other two tracks are freight sidings.
  3. The car-parks at Ebbsfleet station are in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. There appears to be a large cleared site to the North-West of the station.

These pictures show the station.

The requirements for the station will be as follows.

  • The ability to handle 6 tph passing through.
  • The ability to be able to handle 4 tph, that terminate at the station.
  • Terminating four tph, will probably need two platforms for all eventualities.
  • Full step-free access.
  • An interchange with Ebbsfleet International station is also needed.
  • Is car parking needed?

There is certainly enough space.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet Stations

This is part of the plan and is shown on the first map in this post.

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 travellators,  would have cost more than a few tens of million pounds.

Will Northfleet/Ebbsfleet Become A Major Railway Hub?

If Northfleet station and the connection to Ebbsfleet is well designed,, I can see this station becoming a major railway hub.

  • It would have Eurostar Continental services.
  • It would have HighSpeed services to London and Kent.
  • It would have Elizabeth Line services to London and Heathrow.
  • It would have Thameslink and Southeastern services.
  • The station would have lots of parking.

I also feel in the future that more Continental services will be developed.

  • Adding extra platforms for Continental services could be easier than at St. Pancras.
  • It could be an ideal terminus for sleeper trains to and from the Continent.
  • I might be the ideal terminus for very long distance trains to and from the Continent.

Northfleet/Ebbsfleet has something that St. Pancras lacks – space.

Gravesend Station

Gravesend station is a rebuilt step-free station with three platforms, as these pictures show.

But is it the right station, for the end of the Elizabeth Line?

These points are in favour.

  • There is a bay platform, that could handle 4 tph.
  • The station is step-free.
  • The station has had a recent refurbishment.
  • It has HighSpeed services to London and East Kent.
  • Gravesend is a town of 74,000 people.
  • Passengers can change between through trains by just staying on the same platform.

But these points are against.

  • The station is on a cramped site in the town centre.
  • There is no train stabling nearby.
  • Adding lots of car parking may be difficult.
  • Suppose adding the Elizabeth Line to the town was very successful and it was felt more services were needed. Could Gravesend station cope?

These are the times for the various services.

  • HighSpeed to St. Pancras – 25 minutes
  • HighSpeed to Stratford – 17 minutes
  • Southeastern to Charing Cross – 65 minutes
  • Thameslink to Abbey Wood- 28 minutes
  • Thameslink to London Bridge – 60 minutes

I estimate that the Elizabeth Line will take just over 50 minutes to Tottenham Court Road.

This last timing in itself is a good reason for the Elizabeth Line to serve Gravesend.

But I don’t think the Elizabeth Line has to start there.

I am worried that the Elizabeth will be too successful.

  • It serves Central London, Paddington and Heathrow.
  • It will have a frequency of four tph from and to Gravesend.
  • It will have trains with a very large capacity.
  • The trains will have wi-fi and 4G connections.

I don’t think the cramped Gravesend station will be able to cope with the needs of expansion.

  • An extra platform.
  • Handling trains that need to be turned back to London.
  • More car parking.

Northfleet/Ebbsfleet will have the parking and eight tph on the Elizabeth Line, so surely the best solution is to have the actual Elizabeth Line terminal station to the East of Gravesend.

  • Travellers to the West of Gravesend will use Northfleet/Ebbsfleet.
  • Travellers in Gravesend will use Gravesend station by walking, cycling or using a local bus.
  • Travellers to the East of Gravesend will use the new terminal station.

The Elizabeth Line extension is supposedly costing £3.2 billion, so it should serve as many potential passengers as possible.

The Elephant In The Garden Of England

It is proposed that the new Lower Thames Crossing is built to the East of Gravesend.

This map from the Department of Transport, shows the route.

Note.

  1. The new crossing, which is shown in red, bypasses the Dartford Crossing on the M25.
  2. The A226 runs between Gravesend and Higham via a junction with the new crossing at Chalk.
  3. Northfleet is to the West of Gravesend.

This Google Map shows the area between Chalk and Higham.

Note.

  1. Chalk in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Higham in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The A226 running between Chalk and Higham.
  4. Higham station on the North Kent Line about half-way up the East side of the map.
  5. The North Kent Line running across the top of the map between Gravesend and Higham stations via Hoo Junction.

The Lower Thames Crossing will run North-South across this map to the East of Chalk and according to the Department of Transport map to the West of Thong.

I should admit, that I don’t drive, so the Lower Thames Crossing will be of no use to me, but I have friends in Kent and most seem to be in favour of the new crossing.

Reopening The Hoo Branch To Passenger Trains

In Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening, I wrote about an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways with the same title.

This is the first paragraph of the Modern Railways article..

Medway Council is working with Network Rail and other industry players in an effort to make restoration of a passenger service to Hoo on the Isle of Grain branch feasible. The Council was awarded £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund in 2020 to support schemes to facilitate building of 12,000 new houses in the area, with £63 million of the HIF money for reinstatement of services on the Hoo Branch.

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

  • A new station South of the former Sharnal Street station.
  • Works to level crossings, of which there are six between Gravesend station and proposed site of the new Hoo station.
  • A passing place at Hoo Junction, where the branch joins the North Kent Line.
  • A passing place at Cooling Street.

It looks like we may have the smaller project of reopening the Hoo branch railway, whilst a major road and tunnel is built through the area.

This OpenRailwayMap shows the North Kent Line between Gravesend and Higham stations.

Note.

  1. Gravesend station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Higham station is at the Eastern edge of the map.
  3. The railway shown in orange is the North Kent Line.
  4. The railway shown in yellow is the Hoo branch.
  5. The railway shown in red is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

It looks like the path of the new crossing could follow a similar path to the overhead power cable shown on this map.

According to Modern Railways, the main reason for reopening the Hoo Branch for passenger trains is to provide rail access for new housing on the Isle of Grain.

  • Improving the Hoo branch will also help the freight services to the various docks and installations on the Isle of Grain.
  • Will the builders of the new crossing, use the Isle of Grain for the supply of aggregates and the disposal of tunnel spoil?
  • Remember that barges on the Thames were used to remove the tunnel spoil from London for both Crossrail and the Battersea extension to the Northern Line.

My knowledge of major projects is saying to me, that before the major works of the new crossing are started, this branch railway must be updated, otherwise it will cause problems in the future.

Could this be why, the Hoo branch reopening has been mentioned in both the April and July 2022 Editions of Modern Railways? Perhaps a sensible decision has been made, that means the Hoo branch will be improved first, to speed the construction of the new Lower Thames Crossing.

Could The Elizabeth Line Be Extended To The Proposed Hoo Station?

The proposed Hoo station is to be just South of the former Sharnal Street station.

  • This is under ten kilometres from Hoo Junction, where the North Kent Line is electrified.
  • A single platform could handle 4 tph, but provision for two platforms would be prudent.
  • A couple of sidings could provide stabling.
  • Services would join the North Kent Line at Hoo Junction.
  • Services would use battery power between Hoo Junction and Hoo station.
  • If charging were needed at Hoo station a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification would be needed.
  • There is plenty of power available locally to power any electrification.

This Google Map shows the possible location of the station.

Note.

  1. The A 289 road running NE-SW across the map from a roundabout in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The A 289 leads from the roundabout in the South-West corner of the map to the Medway Tunnel to Chatham.
  3. Sharnal Street is between the two roundabouts.
  4. The single-track railway crosses the A 289 at right-angles, about 500 metres South of Sharnal Street.
  5. There is even a high voltage power line  going through the area to the South of the railway.

It seems to be an ideal place for a station with good road access, space and plenty of power to charge battery vehicles and trains.

I took these pictures of where the A289 crosses over the railway on June 27th 2022.

Note.

  1. The substation site, which is marked with Network Rail logos. It looks like power has been provided to the site.
  2. The high-voltage line passing to the South of the site.
  3. There were trucks carrying tunnel segments. Is there a factory on the Isle of Grain and will it produce segments for the Lower Thames Crossing?
  4. The Sharnal Street bridge over the railway.

It certainly looks like Network Rail have been planning a station there for some time.

Around The Isle Of Grain

I took these pictures of the Isle of Grain on June 27th 2022.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of housing planned on the island.
  2. Someone wants to build a theme park.
  3. The road past the station leads to the Medway Tunnel.

All these factors would add to the case for the station.

Battery-Electric Class 345 Trains

There would be a need to develop a third-rail battery/electric version of the Class 345 trains.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over eleven years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

A Simple Extension Of The Elizabeth Line

The branch to Hoo station could be a very simple extension of the Elizabeth Line.

  • There appear to be no challenging engineering problems.
  • Parking and cycling routes could be provided as required at the station.
  • The centre of Gravesend would be under ten minutes from Hoo station.
  • There would be a same-platform change for HighSpeed services at Gravesend station.
  • The developers of the housing would be over the moon.
  • Workers for the Lower Thames Crossing and the big energy projects on the Isle of Grain could reverse commute from London.
  • The station would only be a few minutes more than an hour from Central London.
  • The station could also double as a Park-and-Ride for Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Buses could connect Hoo station to Chatham and Gillingham.

It could prove to be a very valuable station for the Isle of Grain and the Medway Towns.

The Contactless Ticketing Conundrum

This is said on the Transport for London website.

Contactless pay as you go is accepted throughout the Elizabeth line.

So it’s just a case of Have Card Will Travel!

So this will mean, that contactless ticketing will have to be accepted at all stations East of Abbey Wood.

Everybody will love that!

Are There Any Other Possible Elizabeth Line Destinations In Kent?

Train companies, since the days of British Rail have run Peak time commuter trains to bring workers into London in the morning and take them home in the evening.

There will be four tph passing through Gravesend and they don’t all have to go to and from Hoo station.

Digital signalling will give flexibility as to which stations the trains could serve.

Possibilities include.

Gillingham

Gillingham station may be a possibility.

Maidstone West

Maidstone West station may be a possibility.

Rainham

Rainham station has three platforms and is already served by two Thameslink tph to Luton through Central London, which use the bay Platform 0

Some might argue that two Elizabeth Line tph should extend from Abbey Wood to Rainham, to give a four tph service between Abbey Wood and Rainham.

This would be a North Kent Metro.

Rochester

Rochester station has three platforms and Platform 3 can turn trains back to London.

It is already used by Thameslink to turn Peak services.

Project Management

The project may be budgeted to cost £3.2 billion, but it is a small number of independent projects.

  • Digital signalling
  • Electrification changeover at Abbey Wood station.
  • An efficient junction East of Abbey Wood.
  • Rebuild Belvedere station with step-free access.
  • Rebuild Erith station with step-free access.
  • Rebuild Slade Green station with step-free access.
  • Extend Slade Green depot.
  • Upgrade Dartford station.
  • Rebuild Stone Crossing station with step-free access.
  • Upgrade Greenhithe station.
  • Upgrade Swanscombe station.
  • Rebuild Northfleet station with step-free access and two extra bay platforms.
  • Install people mover between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Upgrade the Hoo Branch.
  • Build Hoo station.

Note.

  1. Gravesend station would only need minimal updating.
  2. As I said before, I suspect the digital signalling will be the biggest cost.
  3. Choosing the optimal order is good project management!
  4. Projects that create fare revenue should be done early, especially if they don’t interfere with services on the railway.

The first projects, that I would develop would be these.

  • Rebuild Northfleet station with step-free access and two extra bay platforms.
  • Install people mover between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Upgrade the Hoo Branch.
  • Build Hoo station.

As I said earlier, this project needs to be developed with the Lower Thames Crossing.

Conclusion

This seems an excellent plan.

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Councils Back Cheaper Crossrail Extension Option To Kent

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on New Civil Engineer.

These two paragraphs describe the preferred scheme.

The council’s opted for the cheaper extension option which would see Crossrail extended from Abbey Wood east to Slade Green, Dartford, Greenhithe and Swancombe before stopping near to HS1 station at Ebbsfleet with a stop at Northfleet.

The report notes: “The preferred scheme is one that would see 8 of the 12 Elizabeth Line trains per hour that are currently planned to terminate at Abbey Wood be extended eastwards, sharing the existing North Kent line tracks with the Southeastern and Thameslink services.

Currently, the following services use the proposed route between Abbey Wood and Northfleet.

  • Southeastern – two tph – London Cannon Street and London Cannon Street via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Southeastern – two tph – London Cannon Street and Dartford via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Southeastern – two tph – London Charing Cross and Gravesend via Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • Thameslink – two tph – Luton and Rainham via Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

Note that tph is trains per hour.

These services provide these frequencies at the stations between Abbey Wood and Northfleet.

  • Abbey Wood – eighteen tph, which assumes twelve tph from Crossrail.
  • Belvedere – four tph
  • Erith – four tph
  • Slade Green – six tph
  • Dartford – four tph
  • Stone Crossing – four tph
  • Greenhithe – four tph
  • Swanscombe – four tph
  • Northfleet – four tph

Note twelve tph from Crossrail terminate at Abbey Wood.

If Crossrail were to run eight tph to Northfleet, this would provide these frequencies at the stations.

  • Abbey Wood – eighteen tph, which assumes twelve tph from Crossrail.
  • Belvedere – twelve tph
  • Erith – twelve tph
  • Slade Green – fourteen tph
  • Dartford – twelve tph
  • Stone Crossing – twelve tph
  • Greenhithe – twelve tph
  • Swanscombe – twelve tph
  • Northfleet – twelve tph

Note four tph from Crossrail terminate at Abbey Wood and eight tph at Northfleet.

These are my thoughts.

A Turnback Facility At Northfleet Station

There will need to be a turnback facility at Northfleet station.

  • It will have to handle eight tph
  • Nine-car Class 345 trains used by Crossrail are 205 metres long.

Eight tph would suggest that two platforms would be needed.

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 two well-appointed turnback platforms at Northfleet station.

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

Rebuilding to add the turnback facility, 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 at least two extra platforms.

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 £60 million.

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.

 

 

November 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments