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

Heavyweight Backing Expected For £1.5bn Crossrail Extension

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

This is the first paragraph.

Government infrastructure tsar Sir John Armitt is this week expected to throw his weight behind a £1.5bn extension to Ebbsfleet.

The article also says.

  • Circumstances have changed greatly since the 2008 Crossrail Act.
  • Canary Wharf Group, who contributed £150million to the building of Canary Wharf station, may be prepared to contribute, as this will give access from their site to Eurostar.
  • The extension could support the construction of 55,000 new homes and 50,000 jobs.

The extension would take ten years to design and construct.

Eurostar

After my forays to and from Europe recently by Eurostar, I feel that a Crossrail link to Ebbsfleet will be heavily used.

  • As more destinations are served by trains from St. Pancras, more passengers will find Ebbsfleet a more convenient station for the Continent.
  • Ebbsfleet will be linked directly to Canary Wharf, the City of London, the West End and Heathrow.
  • Crossrail will give an easy Undergound-free link between Wales and the West Country and Ebbsfleet stations with a single change at Paddington station.
  • When HS2 opens, there will be an easy Underground-free link between the Midlands and the North and Ebbsfleet stations with a single change at Old Oak Common station.
  • St. Pancras only has four platforms with no space to expand, but it could be relatively easy to add capacity at Ebbsfleet.

If I was in charge of designing and building the Crossrail extension, I’d make sure that Eurostar made a contribution, as they will be big winners from the extension.

The City Of London

The extension may be beneficial to the City of London.

  • The extension would add more stations within easy reach of terminal stations in the City.
  • The extension might give an easier route to and from the City.
  • After Brexit, I suspect the institutions of the City will want more good connections to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and Paris.

,Perhaps one of the big City companies might like to finance construction and charge a royalty on each rain?

London City Airport

Should the project to build the extension also include building a Crossrail station at London City Airport?

This would mean that passengers between places like Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Man and Manchester, and Continental destinations served by train would have a more convenient interchange in London.

Ebbsfleet Valley

Ebbsfleet Valley is a proposed new town of 16,000 homes being built on brownfield land close to Ebbsfleet station.

£300million of government money has been pumped into the project. But according to Wikipedia, there has been criticisms of the project.

London Paramount Entertainment Resort

London Paramount Entertainment Resort is described like this in Wikipedia.

London Paramount Entertainment Resort (commonly referred to as London Paramount) is a proposed theme park for the London Resort in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012 and it was estimated to open by around 2023.. In June 2017, it was announced that Paramount had pulled out of the project[2]. However, London Resort Company Holdings still insist the project is going ahead.

I’ve never been to a theme park, as I prefer the real thing!

But others will like it!

Conclusion

The beneficiaries of extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet, include a lot of big players with possibly large financial resources.

I would suspect that some could be persuaded to fund particular parts of the project.

After all, if a housing developer invested say £10 million, in a new station for a development and then found it easier to sell the houses, there comes a point, where they make more profit and house buyers get a much better place to live.

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

C2E – Crossrail 1 1/2?

The title of this post is the same as that in this article in Rail Engineer.

It describes a proposal to extend the Abbey Wood Branch of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station along the North Kent Line.

The article starts with these two paragraphs.

With the main Crossrail project now mostly complete, and with tracks running right through the new tunnels, there has been much talk of Crossrail 2 as the next project, crossing under London from South West to North East and linking Wimbledon with the Leigh Valley.

Rather overlooked is a shorter-term proposal to extend the current Crossrail (or Elizabeth line as it will be called) from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet in Kent.

The article talks about the advantages of an extension to Ebbsfleet International station.

This proposal would connect several major brownfield development sites with central London, London City and Heathrow airports, and the West, while also connecting Crossrail passengers with Eurostar and the continent

Specific figures and points include

  • Bexley has 1,100 acres of development space available.
  • 55,000 homes could be built.
  • Potential for high-value jobs.
  • Dartford, where there is a lot of demand, has six trains per hour  (tph) to London.

In addition the following additional services call or will call in the near future at Dartford.

  • Southeastern – Two tph running between Gillingham and London Charing Cross.
  • Southeastern – Two tph running between Gravesend and London Charing Cross.
  • Thameslink – Two tph running between Rainham and Luton.

This map from the article shows the route.

I think it is a good plan and I’ll give my reasons in the following sections.

Abbey Wood Is Not A Terminal Station

Was the reason Abbey Wood station was chosen as a terminus more to do with giving a rail connection to the public transport desert of Thamesmead and all its supposed Labour voters?

  • It’s not by any important tourist venue like the Thames.
  • There’s not even a Shopping Centre.
  • There’s little space for car parking.
  • Abbey Wood station is a very cramped site.

When compared to the three other termini, it is the least significant.

  • Shenfield is a small town with shops and a railway junction.
  • Reading is a thriving city and a major transport interchange.
  • Heathrow is Heathrow.

I also suspect that the track layout at Abbey Wood station has been designed to allow Crossrail trains to continue Eastwards on the North Kent Line.

Ebbsfleet International Would Be A Much Better Terminal Station

Ebbsfleet International station has a lot going for it, as a Crossrail terminal.

  • It is a station for Eurostar and the Continent.
  • Some continental services might terminate at Ebbsfleet in the future due to capacity limitations at St. Pancras.
  • It would connect Crossrail to the Highspeed commuter services to and from East Kent and East Sussex.
  • There’s plenty of space for platforms and depots.
  • There’s already masses of car parking.
  • The area may get a theme park.

There is also the interesting possibility, that it could be faster for many passengers from Central London to use Crossrail and Ebbsfleet, rather than a taxi and St. Pancras to get a train to Paris and Brussels.

I also believe that one of our World Class architects can come up with a proposal for a passenger-friendly station that combines the current Ebbfleet International station with Northfleet station on the North Kent Line.

The Route Would Require Little Major Engineering Works

The route to Ebbsfleet would be predominantly, if not completely, on the surface, along the double-track North Kent Line. Having just flown my helicopter along the route, there is a lot of apace on either side of the tracks for quite a proportion of the route.

A four-track route would probably be impossible, but I suspect that Network Rail could design an efficient route, that would handle the services on the route efficiently.

Trains Along The North Kent Line

Current frequencies of Off Peak through trains on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations are as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 8 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 4 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 2 tph

There will be additional services in the Peak and Thameslink will run an extra two tph from Rainham to Luton, within the next year or so.

The North Kent Line doesn’t seem to have the most extensive level of services.

The New Southeastern Franchise

The new South Eastern franchise will be awarded in August 2018 and is due to start by the end of the year.

The franchise will probably bring changes and add new trains to the fleet and lines like the North Kent Line.

I also suspect that all trains running on the North Kent Line will in a few years be modern trains capable of operating at 100 mph.

Modern Signalling Could Handle Twenty-Four Trains Per Hour On The North Kent Line

There is no doubt, that if Crossrail-style signalling were applied to the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood the Medway towns, capacity could be increased, if all trains on the line were modern 100 mph units.

I doubt that twenty-four tph would be needed, but I’m sure that enough capacity could be created on the route to handle all services; curent or proposed.

How Many Trains Would Crossrail Run Between Abbey Wood And Ebbsfleet International Stations?

Crossrail’s timetable plan shows  these frequencies at the various termini in the Peak.

  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph
  • Gidea Park – 4 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – 4 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 – 2 tph
  • Liverpool Street – 4 tph
  • Maidenhead – 2 tph
  • Paddington – 12 tph
  • Reading – 4 tph
  • Shenfield – 12 tph

From these figures, it would appear that four tph to Ebbsfleet International would be reasonable starting point.

This would give the following frequencies along the line.

  • Abbey Wood – 14 tph
  • Belvedere – 14 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 10 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe – 10 tph
  • Gravesend – 4 tph

Note I have added in the 2 tph Thameslink trains from Rainham to Luton.

These frequencies are well within the limits of a double-track railway with a 100 mph operating speed and modern signalling.

The Original Plan Was To Extend To Gravesend

The route for Crossrail from Abbey Wood is safeguarded to Gravesend. Under Future Extensions in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, this is said.

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. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.

A depot would be built at Hoo Junction to the East of Gravesend.

The extended service could always call at both stations.

  • Ebbsfleet International station connects to Eurostar and has space for masses of parking.
  • Gravesend connects to services to East Kent and is on the Thames.

Money and accountants would decide.

Conclusion

Extending four tph from Abbey Wood to a new terminus at Ebbsfleet International station, doesn’t appear to be the most difficult of undertakings.

 

 

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Crossrail

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

Current Services Between London, Abbey Wood And The Medway Towns

Adding together current services at Abbey Wood station  as given in Wikipedia with the proposed Thameslink service between Rainham and Luton, which I wrote about in Thameslink To Rainham, gives the following service level at Abbey Wood station.

Westbound;

All trains will call at London Bridge station, which after rebuilding for Thameslink is complete, will be a formidable interchange to other services, such as the Underground, buses and Shank’s pony.

Londoners tend to think of Crossrail, as London’s most important rail project, but I do think that the rebuilding of London Bridge station in a few years time will be considered the second most important.

In addition, as Abbey Wood will be connected to Crossrail, there must be few places in Central London, to which travel is difficult from Abbey Wood station.

Eastbound;

  • 2 tph to Barnehurst via Slade Green returning to London via the Bexleyheath Line
  • 2 tph to Dartford
  • 2 tph to Gillingham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Rainham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Crayford via Slade Green returning to London via the Dartford Loop Line,

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Dartford station.

Note.

  1. Barnehurst is on the Bexleyheath Line.
  2. Cayford station is on the Dartford Loop Line.
  3. The North Kent Line goes East from Datford station to Gravesend , the Medway Towns and Thanet.

In addition at Abbey Wood station, using their separate platforms and separate tracks to the Crossrail tunnel, 12 tph will be providing the Crossrail service.

Future Services From London To The Medway Towns

Looking at the Southeastern services to Gillingham and the Thameslink services to Rainham, the following can be said

  • These are the only services, that go more than a few miles past Abbey Wood station.
  • The Gillingham service is a Southeastern Metro service, so probably needs to be run by faster modern trains, rather than the current Class 465 trains.
  • The combination of the Gillingham and Rainham services will hopefully give a very passenger friendly train every fifteen minutes between Abbey Wood and Gillingham, via Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester and Chatham.
  • The Gillingham service calls at Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.
  • The Rainham service calls at Greenwich between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.

I do wonder, if it would be better if the Southeastern service from Charing Cross to Gillingham were to be extended to Rainham and always run by a twelve-car train.

  • Rainham is only four minutes further from London than Gillingham.
  • Rainham has a twelve-car bay platform.
  • Gillingham’s bay platform may not be able to take a twelve-car train.
  • Four tph can be handled in a single bay platform.

This would give a high-capacity four tph service between Abbey Wood and the Medway Towns, with two tph from Thameslink and two tph from Southeastern.

But the major factor would be that passengers would surely find it a very easy service to use.

Service Frequencies East Of Dartford

Note that of the eastbound trains, only 6 tph go through Dartford, as the other 4 tph loop back to London.

Between Dartford and Rochester, there is only the 4 tph to Gillingham/Rainham, although they are joined by 2 tph Highspeed trains between Gravesend and Rochester.

It would thus appear that the maximum frequency between Abbey Wood and Rochester is probably 6 tph.

When you consider that the trains through the area, will all be modern trains fitted with the latest ERTMS signalling, handling these numbers of trains and perhaps 4-8 tph for Crossrail between Abbey Wood and Gravesend in the future, will be well below the 24 tph handled by Crossrail and Thameslink in their central tunnels.

The New Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

Looking at the new track layout at Abbey Wood station, it appears to be very simple with just a reversing siding to the East of the two Crossrail platforms 3 and 4.

Cross-overs appear to be provided so that the following is possible.

  • Trains from Crossrail can continue towards Dartford after calling at Platform 4.
  • Trains from Dartford can continue towards Crossrail after calling at Platform 3.

It looks to me, that the track layout is designed, so that Crossrail trains can easily run to and from Dartford or any other station that the planners decide is the terminus.

Capacity Between Abbey Wood And Rochester

As the double-track line between Abbey Wood and Rochester with modern signalling can probably handle up to probably 24 tph, there is capacity for a lot of Crossrail trains to go past Abbey Wood.

Suppose  Crossrail is extended to Gravesend with 4 tph extended to the new terminal and trains stabled at a new depot at Hoo Junction to the East of the town.

The following frequencies to and from London would apply at various stations.

  • Abbey Wood – 10 tph + 12 tph Crossrail
  • Belvedere – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Erith – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Slade Green – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Dartford – 6 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Gravesend- 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail + 2 tph Highspeed

North Kent is going to get a better train service.

Hoo Junction

Hoo Junction, which is a few miles to the East of Gravesend station, has been identified by Crossrail planners, as a suitable area for a depot to serve an extended South-Eastern branch of the line.

Chris Gibbs, in his extensive report on GTR’s performance, suggests that the Hoo Junction area , be used as a depot for Thameslink services to North Kent. I wrote about this in Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

In addition, Southeastern are running short of space in Slade Green Depot.

But that’s just the railways.

This report on the BBC indicates that the new Lower Thames Crossing will cross North-South between Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

Should there be a Park-and-Ride station at Hoo Junction?

It would have a four tph service between London and the Medway Towns with a stop at Abbey Wood for Crossrail.

In Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot, I came to the following conclusion.

Crossrail, the Department of Transport, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern, Thameslink and all other stakeholders and residents should sit round a large table and agree a common long-term philosophy that is in all their best interests for the future.

What happens at Hoo Junction, will be tremendously important to transport infrastructure in the South East of England in general and Kent in particular.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet International Station

The article talks about extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station, by adding two new tracks  through Slade Green and Dartford stations, serving existing stations.

As I showed in the previous section, I think extra tracks are not necessary, as modern signalling can handle the required number of trains with ease. I suspect though, that the 75 mph Class 465 trains will need to be retired from the North Kent Line, as their performance is just not good enough.

The report says this about the connection at Ebbsfleet.

There would be a new station that would have pedestrian access with Ebbsfleet HS1 station and Northfleet on the historic line – this could be the terminus, or the new line might reach as far as Hoo Junction on the east side of Gravesend.

I’ve always felt that Ebbsfleet International station was a logical South-Eastern destination for Crossrail, mainly because of the space at the station for platforms, depots and car parking.

Consider.

  • St. Pancras station may have too few platforms for Continental services in the future, so Ebbsfleet International may end up being a terminus for some of these services.
  • Southeastern is developing the Highspeed commuter services to East Kent and East Sussex, which probably need a connection to Crossrail and/or Thameslink.
  • The Fawkham Junction link connects Swanley and Ebbsfleet International stations, and it could be used by extra Highspeed services or Thameslink.

I’ve always felt that there’s a simple solution in there, but vested interests and politicians seem to stop railway planners from finding it.

So why not use upgrade Northfleet station with the following features?

  • The ability to accept the services along the North Kent Line – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • The ability to accept twelve-car trains.
  • A pedestrian link to Ebbsfleet International station based on something a bit sexy. Perhaps a fast travelator or some other form of people mover.

This Google Map shows that there is plenty of space between the stations.

 

Northfleet station is to the North-East of Ebbsfleet International station.

Could it be that a simple solution  would work?

  • Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe and Swanscombe become Crossrail and North Kent stations.
  • Northfleet station is connected to Ebbsfleet International station in a passenger-friendly way.
  • The four tph service through the Medway towns to London Bridge continue and are better-integrated with Thameslink at London Bridge.
  • The Swanley link to Ebbsfleet is reopened to allow more service opportunities.

But then what do I do know?

Is Abbey Wood Station A Cross-Platform Interchange?

One thing that the Modern Railways article says, is that Abbey Wood station has been designed with cross-platform interchange, in such a way that any delays to Kent services don’t have any knock-on effects on the new services.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

But at least with this layout, Crossrail trains can have their own pair of lines to the East, running to the North of the current tracks. The Modern Railways article says this.

Mindful of this, the working group is proposing two new dedicated tracks for the extension, running alongside the line through Slade Green and Dartford, with platforms serving the existing stations.

This Google Map shows the route through Dartford.

In some places putting in two extra tracks would be very difficult and extremely expensive and very disruptive to local residents.

Given the capabilities of modern signalling, now being demonstrated on Thameslink in Central London, I believe that something practical for the train companies and friendly for the passengers will emerge.

But one thing is certain. There will not be cross-platform interchange between Crossrail and other services at Abbey Wood station.

Interchange Between North Kent Services And Crossrail

I have a feeling, that this will come down to personal preferences.

After the opening of Crossrail to Abbey Wood in 2018 and the opening of Thameslink to Rainham, passengers will probably have to use Abbey Wood, where it will be an up-and-over via escalators, lifts or stairs.

If and when Crossrail is extended to Gravesend, any of Abbey Wood, Dartford and Gravesend, could be used as a same-platform interchange.

It would also be possible to take a Highspeed service from Ramsgate and change to Crossrail at Gravesend. Would this avoid the extra charge for High Speed One?

I think that Gravesend could become the interchange of choice, as it could have the following London-bound trains, if Crossrail is extended.

  • 2 tph – Thameslink to Luton
  • 2 tph – Southeastern to Charing Cross
  • 2 tph – Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International, Stratford international and St. Pancras.
  • 4 tph – Crossrail

There could be a need to improve the platforms to cope with the increase of passenger numbers.

Conclusion

Crossrail will get very involved with the new Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Connecting Ebbsfleet International To South London

In the May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

The article says this.

The provision of a direct connection from Ebbsfleet to South London is proposed using the route from Swanley to Fawkham Junction, which was used by Eurostar services to Waterloo. Options include providing a new terminal platform at Ebbsfleet adjacent to the existing lines or a connection into the existing domestic platforms.

This Google Map shows the Chatham Main Line between Farningham Road and Longfield stations.

Note.

  1. The Chatham Main Line goes from West to East across the map.
  2. Fawkham Junction to the West of Longfield station.
  3. The rail line curves away North-Easterly to Ebbsfleet International station, using the same track-bed as the former Gravesend West Line.

This Google Map shows Ebbsfleet International station.

Note.

  1. HS1 runs North-South through the station.
  2. HighSpeed services to Thanet destinations use the line that runs across the map from North-West to East.
  3. HighSpeed services to Ashford Internationl station have their own separate platforms on HS1.

The local line into Ebbsfleet International station can be as simple or complicated as the budget will allow.

The simplest arrangement would be where a single track chord connects the Gravesend West Line into the space between the stations and its Eastern car parks.

This Google Map shows the station and the Gravesend West Line.

It almost looks like a good bit of space was left to connect Ebbsfleet International station to Fawkham Junction.

Train Services To Ebbsfleet

Southeastern and Thamesline are probably in pole position to provide services, as their services call at Swanley station which would be directly connected to Ebbsfleet International by the new link.

The most efficient solution would be a shuttle train or even a tram-train, at a frequency of four trains per hour.

But we shouldn’t forget Crossrail, that could be extended to Gravesend.

May 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

The only connection between Crossrail or Thameslink and Continental services is at St. Pancras, where Thameslink has a better connection to these services, than it does to any other of the several lines at that station.

  • Ebbsfleet International station almost looks to me, that it was designed so that everybody catching a train there would have to drive to the station.
  • The only stations connected to Ebbsfleet International by domestic services are those stations served by the Highspeed services into St. Pancras.
  • So you might as well go into St. Pancras first! But then you’re faced with a very bad connection to Continental services.
  • I have to assume, that the architect of St. Psncras station was not a serious user of trains with a heavy bag.
  • At present all stations between Gravesend and Faversham have a two trains per hour (tph) service into Ebbsfleet International.
  • I feel that in the future Ebbsfleet International may become more important for Continental services, as there must be a time when St. Pancras runs out of platform space.

This may be adequate if you live in the Medway Towns within walking distance of a station, but as a design for a passenger-friendly railway, it’s total crap.

As an example, I met someone a few weeks ago, whose daughter lives in Swanley and as she doesn’t drive, she has to take a mini-cab to Ebbsfleet.

I suspect that some of Network Rail’s finest have a solution using existing infrastructure that improves the link.

This is a Google Map that shows both Northfleet station and platforms 5 an 6 at Ebbsfleet International station.

Lines Between Ebbsfleet International And Northfleet Stations

Lines Between Ebbsfleet International And Northfleet Stations

Consider these points about the map.

  • Northfleet station is at the top, with the North Kent Line running through it.
  • Gravesend station is the next station in a South-East direction on the North Kent Line.
  • There are a couple of freight lines or sidings running parallel and to the West of the North Kent Line.
  • Freight lines curve away to the East and the river.
  • Crossrail tunnel spoil was taken away from Northfleet.
  • Platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station, are on the diagonal rail line going across to the North of the lake and the main station..

Consider these general points.

  • Gravesend to Ebbsfleet International is scheduled to take four minutes.
  • The East Kent Resignalling Project has recently been completed.
  • Crossrail’s spoil trains probably don’t go to Northfleet any more.

Consider these about Gravesend station.

  • There is a twelve-car bay platform facing towards London and Ebbsfleet International.
  • The London-bound platform 1 at Gravesend has bi-directional signalling. Why?
  • The station has a new step-free bridge.
  • Crossrail may be extended to the station with a sophisticated, spacious reversing facility/depot at Hoo Junction, perhaps five minutes to the East.

And consider these about platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet Internal station, which are the platforms that serve Gravesend.

  • There are very comprehensive crossovers at the Eastern end of the platforms, which can be seen on the map.
  • The platforms appear to have both overhead and third-rail electrification.
  • The platforms would probably be long enough to reverse a six-car train.

So are all the pieces of a jigsaw in place for an innovative solution?

There could possibly be shuttle train between Ebbsfleet International and Gravsend or the Medway Towns.

  • The shuttle train would run in the thirty minute gaps between the current services between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet international.
  • A shuttle train would probably take about 12-15 to do the round trip.
  • Instead of Gravesend, it could run from Hoo Junction if Crossrail is extended or any station to the East, if it’s not.
  • Any four-car Electrostar with the correct signalling could probably run the shuttle.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The 2 tph Charing Cross to Gravesend service could also be extended to Ebbsfleet International.

  • It would need a reverse at Gravesend.
  • Platform 0 could obviously be used for the reverse, but as platform 1 has bi-directional signalling, I suspect this platform could be used as well.
  • As there would be two reverses in about a dozen minutes, this might explain why platform 1 was made bi-directional.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

Both solutions would give at least four tph service between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

If the shuttle were to run between Rainham and Ebbsfleet International it would add two extra trains to the service through the Medway Towns, raising that level to more than six tph.

Conclusion

I don’t know if either solution is possible, but I suspect there’s a man or woman who does know and they have their mind on a better solution!

I’ll admit, that I do like the shuttle or a 4 tph link between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

When all the services like Thameslink and Crossrail are serving North Kent from all over London and the South East, it would mean that if there was a four tph service between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International, getting to the isolated station would be a lot easier.

But the great thing about going up Ebbsfleet’s backside from Gravesend, is that no new infrastructure would be required.

Related Posts

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Along The North Kent Line

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 7 Comments

Along The North Kent Line

The North Kent Line has seen some changes in the last few years and could see some more in the next few.

Starting from the terminal in London Bridge, which itself is going through a massive upgrade, these improvements have been done or will happen.

Woolwich Arsenal

Woolwich Arsenal station has from 2009 provided a direct link to the Docklands Light Railway, giving a direct connection to London City Airport and Bank.

In 2019, Woolwich station on Crossrail will open, which will be two hundred metres away from Woolwich Arsenal station. This will probably not have a direct effect on Woolwich Arsenal station, but two stations will certainly stimulate development in the area.

I doubt many will use this station to interchange between the North Kent Line and Crossrail, as it looks like the connection at Abbey Wood station could be easier.

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station is being rebuilt and in December 2018, Crossrail will start services at the station to Paddington via Canary Wharf and the central tunnel.

Wikipedia says this about Crossrail services at Abbey Wood station.

Abbey Wood is the terminus of one of two eastern branches of Crossrail and will offer cross-platform interchange between terminating Crossrail services (at 12 trains per hour on new line) and existing Southeastern services (along existing tracks)

Plans are always being talked about to link Abbey Wood station to the North Bank of the Thames at either Gallions Reach or Barking Riverside.

I doubt it will happen in the next ten years.

Dartford

Dartford station has from the beginning of this year been one of London’s contactless ticketing stations, as is reported in Oyster and Contactless Bank Cards, under the station’s Wikipedia entry.

Don’t be surprised if this creeps outwards from London.

Greenhithe

Greenhithe station was rebuilt in 2008 and is the station for Bluewater.

Because of the Shopping Centre, Greenhithe will probably be a station that could benefit from contactless ticketing.

Northfleet

Northfleet station is the closest to Ebbsfleet International and we could see an improved link between the two stations.

As Northfleet could have upwards of four trains per hour (tph) stopping in both directions, a frequent shuttle bus, could be an affordable option.

Smaller Stations

There are several smaller stations between London Bridge and Gravesend.

I’m obviously not sure, but on a quick look all of them seem ready to accept the long trains, that will be used by both Thameslink and Crossrail.

Gravesend

Gravesend station was remodelled in 2013 and now has two long through platforms and a bay platform.

Crossrail to Gravesend

Under Future in the Wikipedia for Gravesend station, this is said.

In December 2008, the local authority for Gravesend (Gravesham Council), was formally requested by Crossrail and the Department for Transport, to sanction the revised Crossrail Safeguarding. This safeguarding provides for a potential service extension, from the current south of Thames terminus at Abbey Wood, to continue via the North Kent Line to Gravesend station. The Crossrail route extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend and Hoo Junction, remains on statute. With current services from Gravesend to London Bridge, Waterloo East and London Charing Cross being supplemented by highspeed trains from the end of 2009 to St Pancras, the potential in having Crossrail services from central London, London Heathrow, Maidenhead and/or Reading, terminating at Gravesend, would not only raise the station to hub status but greatly contribute towards the town’s regeneration.

At present, Gravesend station has the following services.

Typical off-peak services are:

  • 2 tph Highspeed services in each direction between London St. Pancras, Ebbsfleet intewrnation and Faversham and the East.
  • 2 tph Southeastern services between London Charing Cross and Gillingham.
  • 4 tph Southeastern services between London Charing Cross and Gravesend.

From 2019, Thameslink are saying that they will be running two tph between Rainham and Luton via Dartford and Greenwich.

This will mean that eight tph in each direction will go between Gravesend and Dartford, with another two tph going between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

Because of the  new Thameslink service, the train frequency between Gravesend and Gillingham will increase from the current four tph to six tph.

I think that although Gravesend will be the nominated terninal for Crossrail, the trains will actually reverse direction at Hoo Junction, so there will no need to use any platform space at Gravesend to prepare the train for its return journey.

At present, Wikipedia is saying this will be the Morning Peak service from Abbey Wood station.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 6 tph to Paddington
  • 2 tph to West Drayton

With this Off Peak service.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 4 tph to Paddington

What the current North Kent Line can handle would probably determine how many Croosrail trains went to Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

But Crossrail won’t be short of seats to really provide a superb service to and from the Medway Towns.

I have a feeling that once Crossrail is running successfully, the traffic will define, if, when and how any extension to Gravesend is built.

But the creation of the extension to Gravesend and Hoo Junction will not be a massive undertaking.

  • The depot and other facilities at Hoo Junction will have to be built.
  • Could the depot at Hoo Junction be without electrification? If the Class 345 trains have sufficient onboard energy storage, which I believe could be the case and I wrote about in Bombardier’s Plug-and-Play Train, then this is a serious possibility, which would save money and time in building the depot.
  • All platforms are probably long enough for the Class 345 trains.
  • The Crossrail train specification says that trains must have the potential to be converted for third rail operation. The similar Class 710 trains will have this capability.
  • Judging by my observations in Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations, I feel that Abbey Wood station is probably capable of handling the same number of trains going further down the line.
  • The signalling would have to be adjusted for the new service pattern.

But there would be no tunnelling and no major electrification on the North Kent Line.

Perhaps, the only major expenses would be.

  • Building the depot/reversing sidings and facilities at Hoo Junction.
  • Any extra trains needed.
  • The cost of any rail link into Ebbsfleet International station.

So I doubt, we’ll be talking large numbers of billions.

Class 395 Trains

The Class 395 trains are normally six-car trains, but they can work in pairs as twelve-cars.

This probably means that any station, where the Highspeed service calls can handle a twelve-car train.

Strood

Strood station was updated in 2009 for the Highspeed service. Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Rochester

Rochester station was rebuilt in 2016. Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Chatham

Chatham station accepts twelve-car trains. Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Gillingham

Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Gillingham station is an interchange with two long platforms and a bay platform.

Five tph including two Highspeed services pass through the station and two tph go to and from London Charing Cross.

From 2019, there will be another two Thameslink tph between Luton and Rainham stopping at the station.

All this adds up to comprehensive service which stretches out to several London termini and the Kent Coast.

London Bridge, Abbey Wood and Gravesend all have at least four tph from Gillingham.

Rainham

Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Rainham station has been updated in the last couple of years. An Update section in the Wikipedia entry, says this.

As part of the rebuild of Rochester Station, a new Up Bay Platform has been added.
Trains are now able to use this new platform as the East Kent Resignalling Project has been completed. At present, only a couple of trains use it in the evening rush hour.

The East Kent Resignalling Project is described on this page of the Southeastern web site.

These improvements are noted.

  • New £26 million station at Rochester
  • 250 new signals to replace old signalling equipment
  • Disabled access at Strood station
  • New bay platform at Rainham
  • Safer level crossings fitted with obstacle detection technology at Aylesford, Yalding, Beltring, Wateringbury, East Farleigh, Cuxton and Snodland
  • Centralisation of signalling control to Gillingham and the decommissioning of several signal boxes.

It would appear that a updated railway and a short series of good stations through the Medway Towns has been created, that can handle the increased frequencies.

Thameslink To Rainham

Modern Railways in August 2016, said that Thameslink would be running a two tph service between Luton and Rainham via Greenwich and Dartford.

The new bay platform at Rainham would be ideal for this service.

Onward From Rainham

There doesn’t seem to be many changes to what services are run now.

Conclusions

Everything seems to fit together rather well.

  • Twelve-car platforms seem universal or at least where needed.
  • The signalling is up to scratch.
  • The new bay platform at Rainham makes the new two tph Thameslink service to Luton deliverable.
  • To extend Crossrail to Gravesend probably just needs the new depot at Hoo Junction.
  • Dartford to Rainham gets at least a four tph service with six car or longer trains.

The only area, where nothing has been published, is how to incorporate Ebbsfleet International station into the network.

I think it could suffer from London Overground Syndrome. This is my definition of the disease.

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital and across the UK, despite various eradication programs.

It is usually solved by adding more capacity.

Related Posts

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

September 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

If there is one station in the UK, that has been deliberately designed to be difficult to use, it is Ebbsfleet #international station.

Take this evening, when I had taken a lift to the station after the football at Ipswich, as the Great Eastern Main Line was having its annual rebuild and I didn’t want to spend an hour in a rickety bus, rather than in a comfortable Mark 3 coach.

Arrive at most stations in the UK or the world for that matter, and the first thing that you see is a ticket office or a ticket machine.

But not at Ebbsfleet International!

You are presented with a departure board, which tells you where trains will be going and if like me, you are going to St. Pancras International station, you notice that alternative trains leave from platform 2 and 5. Platform 2 is to the left on the level and platform 5 is to the right down a set of steps

So if you have just a fewminutes before your train, perhaps it would be a good idea to buy a ticket, as you enter the station.

But you can’t, as the only ticket machines are by the platforms. on either side.

Whose stupid idea was this?

If ever a station needed a ticket machine as you come in, with a sign saying that the next St. Pancras train leaves from platform X, it is Ebbsfleet International.

As it was, after about four minutes, I was able to determine that I had twelve minutes before the next train from platform 5, so I was able to walk down the set of steps, buy a ticket and get to the draughty platform about eight minutes before the train arrived.

Is Ebbsfleet International, the only station in the UK, where to transfer across a concourse between two ends, there is a set of steps in the middle?

It could be considered that Manchester Piccadilly has steps, but it does have fifteen platforms and was designed over a period of well over a hundred years.

The entry problem could be eliminated by more or relocated ticket machines and a small display telling passengers for St. Pancras, where to go.

It is all down to the bizarre layout of the station.

This Google Map shows the two-station layout of the station.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International Station

The lines going North South through the station are the Eurostar and the HighSpeed domestic services between St. Pancras International and Ashford International stations. The lines branching off to the South East, take the Highspeed domestic services to Faversham.

The Faversham lines have their own platforms 5 and 6 and there are two other platforms 2 and 3 in the other side of the station, sandwiched in-between the Eurostar lines.

This station was built on a green field site with plenty of space, so surely a better layout of lines could have been provided so that all Highspeed domestic services used the same pair of platforms.

Getting There

Ebbsfleet International was certainly designed to be difficult to get to from other parts of the London and the South East.

Romford is a major station in East London, with this recommended route to Ebbfleet Inyternational.

  • TfL Rail to Stratford
  • DLR to Stratford International
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International.

It may be step-free, but there is certainly quite a distance on the flat.

This is the route from Guildford

  • South West Trains to Vauxhall
  • Victoria Line to St. Pancras
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

Not a route that I’d recommend to anybody with a heavy  case or any difficulty in walking.

This is the route from Greenwich.

  • Southeastern to Charlton
  • Southeastern to Gravesend
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

That route truly is a corker.

This one might improve as according to Modern Railways for August 2016, that Thameslink will be starting a service between Luton and Rainham via Dartford and Greenwich. Hopefully this would mean a route from Greenwich to Ebbsfleet Internation as follows.

  • Thameslink to Gravesend
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

That is only one change, but you’d still need to go over the step-free bridge at Gravesend.

The solution would be to do either of the following.

  • Create a proper passenger connection between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations.
  • Allow North Kent services that go to and from Dartford to call at Ebbsfleet International station.

Why didn’t the traditional North Kent services call at Ebbsfleet International station from Day 1?

Get the connection right and all those stations between London Bridge and Rainham would have a two trains per hour service to Ebbsfleet International.

Future Expansion

Ebbsfleet International also seems to be designed deliberately to make extension difficult.

Space for extra platforms for these possible services seems not to have been left.

  • Termination of Continental services, should St. Pancras get too busy.
  • A Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood station.
  • An East-West service from Reading and Gatwick.

Expansion can only probably be achieved by  adding further complication and difficulties for passengers at this truly dreadful station.

The designer’s dictionary, certainly didn’t include that important word future-proofing.

He certainly gave Eurostar and the Highspeed domestic services, one of the least passenger-friendly stations in the world. that fits well with Eurostar’s other crap stations.

  • The extremely passenger-unfriendly St. Pancras.
  • The bleak, isolated and draughty Stratford International

Perhaps the airline industry had a hand in its design, in the hope they could strangle the whole enterprise!

Stratford and Ebbsfleet could also have been designed the way they are, so that they didn’t have easy and quick interchanges with Crossrail.

That would have meant, that passengers would use this more affordable service rather than the expensive Highspeed domestic ones, that always seem half-empty, when I use them.

The three stations are all certainly design crimes and taken together they make the Channel Tunnel Rail Link a design crime of the most immense proportions

But given that it is impossible to do much with the station, what should be done now?

  • The draughty space between the two separate stations, should be made more welcoming.
  • Information should tell passengers the next trains to all stations.
  • Ticket machines must be provided as you enter, rather than being hidden away.
  • The steps to platforms 5 and 6, should be replaced by short escalators and an inclined lift.

Perhaps most importantly, contactless ticketing using bank cards and Oyster must be available on all Highspeed domestic services. I can use that to get to Gatwick Airport, so why not Ebbsfleet International?

Related Posts

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Along The North Kent Line

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

 

September 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 7 Comments

So Near And Yet So Far!

This Google Map shows the geographical relationship between Northfleet station on the North Kent Line and Ebbsfleet International station on the High Speed 1 Rail Link.

Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

Note Swancombe station at the top left, which is also on the North Kent Line.

In my view the designers of High Speed 1, lost sight of the ball here, just as they did at Stratford International station.

To many people and especially to a lot of rail commentators and builders, connectivity is very important, as it often gives passengers the ability to do difficult journeys easily with a simple cross-platform interchange.

If you look at the positions of Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations, as the crow flies it is about four hundred metres. But to walk it along the A226, Thames Way and a loop into Ebbsfleet International station took me thirty-eight minutes.

I took these pictures as I walked.

I am left with the following conclusions.

  • Northfleet station appears to only stand up because the woodworm keep holding hands.
  • Northfleet station is very welcoming to visitors to the town!
  • The current route is a badly-signposted disgrace.
  • I didn’t see any signposts pointing the other way.
  • It would be a nightmare in bad weather.
  • It is a step-free route.

It would not be the most difficult feat of engineering to build a walkway from Northfleet station to the Car Park C on the Northfleet side of Ebbsfleet International station.

Incidentally, the Ebbsfleet International station web site says this about getting to the station by rail.

If you can’t reach us direct then we’re just a 10 minute walk from Northfleet domestic station which is serviced by the North Kent Line.

For my age and health, I can walk reasonably fast, but it took me over three times as long. Did they hire Mo Farah to do the time test?

I think someone measured it on a map as four hundred metres and said that he or she could walk it in ten minutes.

If they did, it is downright incompetence.

I challenge Eurostar to find anybody over sixty-five, who doesn’t have form as an athlete, to walk the signposted route in ten minutes!

If they find someone, who can do it, I’ll give fifty pounds to Railway Children!

December 7, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment