The Anonymous Widower

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

What Effect Will Crossrail Have On The Dartford Crossing?

I asked yesterday, if we needed another crossing of the Thames.

Looking at the Crossrail web site, I see that from Shenfield to Whitechapel will take 39 minutes and Abbey wood to Whitechapel will take 25 minutes. So to do that into London and out again will take 54 minutes plus a couple of minutes for the change of train and direction at Whitechapel.  the current journey incidentally takes around 90 minutes, but you can do it in a car in just under 50 minutes, assuming you get a good run over the bridge.

So it would appear that the Crossrail route would be about the same time as a car, which might or might not be enough to persuade travellers to go by rail.

There will also be opportunities to change at Stratford to HS2 to get into Kent. This won’t help the journeys such as Abbey Wood, but it would be a great help to such journeys as Colchester to Canterbury.

All of these options, might cut the number of car journeys over the Dartford Crossing.  It would of course be helped by adequate car parking at the Crossrail stations.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Do We Need Another Thames Crossing?

There have been plans released today about building another crossing of the Thames close to or downstream of the current Dartford Crossing. It’s all here on the BBC.

It will be of no use to me, as I think, I’ve only been over the current crossing, once since I moved here and that was because I was getting a lift home from Ipswich by a friend who lives in Kent.

Even my friend going home to the Netherlands on Friday, crossed under the Thames in the Blackwall Tunnel.

It could be one of those questions, where now, we might actually need the new crossing, but in say a couple of years, we might not.

London Gateway will be operational by then and will this cut down the number of truck movements around the M25?

Hopefully, there will be more trains from St. Pancras into Europe to new destinations like Amsterdam, Cologne and Geneva.

Will too, passengers for Gatwick be less likely to use a car to get there, when Thameslink is fully operational?

And who’s going to predict the effect of Crossrail?

It is a very complex problem and perhaps spending £5billion on a new bridge, might have better effect, if it was spent elsewhere?

May 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Times When I’m Glad I Don’t Own A Car

Today, according to this article on  the BBC web site, the Dartford Crossing has been closed to traffic for seven hours. This article doesn’t say why, but it was a man threatening to jump.  In the end according to this article after four hours of negotiating he jumped and later was pronounced dead in hospital.

I’m not going to question the man’s motives or suggest that the police should have taken more radical or forceful action, but why is it, it’s inevitably men, who climb on buildings and bridges and threaten to jump? I can’t remember an incident, where it was a woman, who was the prospective jumper.

I’m just glad though, that I’m a non-driver, as I can’t remember this sort of incident with trains. Perhaps, the men who threaten to jump are frightened of getting smashed into small pieces by something like a Class 66. Thinking about it, most suicides on the railway seem to be with passenger rather than freight trains. I wonder why? I have travelled on passenger trains with freight drivers and they have told me that many that get killed by freight trains are thieves nicking cable and other things in the middle of the night.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Wot No Shard!

I didn’t actually get a view of the dreaded Shard from Crystal Palace, as I suspect the trees were in the way. But you can see a long way.

Wot No Shard!

Are those white columns to the right on the horizon the Dartford Crossing?  if not, what are they? Enlarge the picture and I think you can see the bridge deck.

September 27, 2012 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Dartford Crossing

I had to travel to Dover today and took some photographs of the two major bridges en route.  Here are some pictures taken at the Dartford Crossing. Those I took on the Medway Viaducts weren’t worth publishing.

Note the Littlebrook power station. It is oil-fired and was opened in 1981.  Perhaps, it should be gone now! It will be in its present form by 2015.  But at the moment it is one of the few power stations with a black-start capability.  That means it can be started without any external electricity supply.

If anybody thinks that I was taking these photographs whilst driving, then think again.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Jams at the Dartford Crossing

To get to and from Holland, I used the Dartford Crossing twice.

It is not a credit to Britain’s roads.  About ten years ago, I used to use it regularly on a Friday night to come back from a client and usually I travelled home from a Cuckfield, a few miles south of Gatwick to my home a few miles from the north of the M11 in two hours.  I also used to phone my wife as I left the tunnel and knew that I’d be home in virtually exactly an hour.

Now it is not as easy to do such times.

On Friday, I crossed the bridge in a slow queue of traffic.  It wasn’t too bad and I was perhaps delayed by about ten minutes.  But now, that the charge to use the crossing has gone up from £1 to £1.50, once I got to the booths, the automatic ones were virtually unused with a queue of perhaps two or three vehicles at most.  Congestion also seemed to be caused by cars realising at the last minute, that they didn’t have the fifty pence coin and then crossing over.

It was the same on Monday, when I came through going north.

So in other words, a lot of the congestion is caused at the tunnel by the charging structure.

I suppose all that we can do is make sure that we have the correct money.

But then what the crossing really needs is a lot more tool booths!

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment