The Anonymous Widower

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

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

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

These are a few thoughts.

The Design Of The Trains

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

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

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

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

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

The faster running would ease scheduling of the trains.

Extra facilities could include.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oxford To Southend Victoria

This could be a typical route.

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

Note.

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

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

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

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Royal Oak.

Note.

  1. The Elizabeth Line is shown in purple.
  2. Great Western Railway (GWR)  tracks are shown in black.
  3. Where the Elizabeth Line shares the tracks with GWR services the tracks are shown in black and purple.

This map shows an enlargement of Kensal Green East Junction in the North-West corner of the previous map.

Note.

  1. The top pair of lines lead to the Elizabeth Line Depot at Old Oak Common.
  2. the pair of lines that are shown in black and purple handle Elizabeth Line and GWR local services.
  3. The pair of black lines are the Great Western Main Line.
  4. North Pole Depot is used by GWR for their Hitachi trains.

This map shows an enlargement between Ladbroke Grove Junction and Royal Oak.

Note.

  1. In the South-East corner of the map is Subway junction, which appears to have two crossovers for maximum flexibility.
  2. To the East of Subway junction the curved line indicates the Royal Oak Portal of the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.
  3. To the West of Subway junction, there is Paddington New Yard, where there is five tracks labelled CRL Eastbound, Turnback C, Turnback B, Turnback A and CRL Westbound from North to South.
  4. Turnback C, Turnback B and Turnback A are the three turnback sidings, where trains are turned back East through the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.
  5. CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound can be followed across the map to the black and purple lines of the Elizabeth Line to the West of Ladbroke Grove junction.
  6. At present the Western section of the Elizabeth Line terminates in Paddington station. Crossovers at Portobello junction appear to connect the Western section of the Elizabeth Line into Paddington station.
  7. More crossovers also appear to connect the Great Western Main Line to the CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound through Paddington New Yard.

I am fairly sure that the track layout at Stratford allows trains to go both ways between Great Western Main Line and the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.

Connecting To The Central Tunnel Of The Elizabeth Line At Stratford

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Stratford.

Note.

  1. The Elizabeth Line is shown in black and purple.
  2. The Elizabeth Line to Shenfield goes through Platform 8 at Stratford station and Platform 2 at Maryland station.
  3. The Great Eastern Main Line to Shenfield goes through Platform 10 at Stratford station and Platform 4 at Maryland station.
  4. The Stratford country end crossovers allow a train using the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel to go through Platform 8 at Stratford station and Platform 4 at Maryland station before continuing on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  5. The Elizabeth Line to Central London goes through Platform 1 at Maryland station and Platform 5 at Stratford station.
  6. The Great Eastern Main Line to Central London goes through Platform 3 at Maryland station and Platform 9 at Stratford station.
  7. The Stratford country end crossovers allow a train using the Great Eastern Main Line to go through Platform 3 at Maryland station and Platform 3 at Stratford station before continuing through the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.

I am fairly sure that the track layout at Stratford allows trains to go both ways between Great Eastern Main Line and the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel.

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Maximum Capacity At Abbey Wood Station

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

Thameslink

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

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

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

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

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

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

The extra speed would maximise capacity.

August 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion

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

These is the first paragraph.

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

This image from the Abbeywood2Ebbsfleet consultation, shows the proposal.

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

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

I have some thoughts.

Improvement Is Needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Services Between Abbey Wood And Gravesend

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

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

Note.

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

Aggregating these trains gives the following totals for each station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cutting it back to Dartford adjusts the totals as follows.

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

Some of the frequencies have halved.

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

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

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

This adjusts the totals as follows.

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

Note.

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

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

Abbey Wood East Junction

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

Note.

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

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

Abbey Wood Power Change-Over

Some thoughts.

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

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

Belvedere, Erith And Slade Green Stations

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

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

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

Slade Green Depot

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

Note.

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

There are rail capacity problems in this area.

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

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

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

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

Dartford Station

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

Note.

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

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

Stone Crossing, Greenhithe And Swanscombe Stations

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

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

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

Northfleet Station

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

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

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

These pictures show the station.

The requirements for the station will be as follows.

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

There is certainly enough space.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet Stations

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

This Google Map shows Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.

Note.

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

There has been a lot of pressure in the past to build a pedestrian link between the two stations, as reported by the Wikipedia entry for Northfleet station.

The station is very close to Ebbsfleet International station (the NNE entrance is only 334 yards (305 m) from Northfleet’s station), but passengers (using public transport) will find it far easier to access Ebbsfleet International from Gravesend or Greenhithe, as these stations are more accessible and offer easy access to Fastrack bus services. The walking route between the two stations is 0.6 miles (1 km) or 0.8 miles (1.3 km) and a suitable pedestrian link has not been built because of funding issues and objections from Land Securities.

Why when Ebbsfleet International station was built in the early 2000s for opening in 2007, was a pedestrian link not built between the two stations?

How much did omitting the link save?

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

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

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

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

Will Northfleet/Ebbsfleet Become A Major Railway Hub?

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

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

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

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

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

Gravesend Station

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

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

These points are in favour.

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

But these points are against.

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

These are the times for the various services.

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

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

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

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

I am worried that the Elizabeth will be too successful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Elephant In The Garden Of England

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

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

Note.

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

This Google Map shows the area between Chalk and Higham.

Note.

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

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

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

Reopening The Hoo Branch To Passenger Trains

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

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

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

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Google Map shows the possible location of the station.

Note.

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

Around The Isle Of Grain

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

Note.

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

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

Battery-Electric Class 345 Trains

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

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

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

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

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

A Simple Extension Of The Elizabeth Line

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

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

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

The Contactless Ticketing Conundrum

This is said on the Transport for London website.

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

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

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

Everybody will love that!

Are There Any Other Possible Elizabeth Line Destinations In Kent?

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

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

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

Possibilities include.

Gillingham

Gillingham station may be a possibility.

Maidstone West

Maidstone West station may be a possibility.

Rainham

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

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

This would be a North Kent Metro.

Rochester

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

It is already used by Thameslink to turn Peak services.

Project Management

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

This seems an excellent plan.

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Will There Be A Need For Long Distance Class 345 Train?

I wrote Crossrail To Heathrow, Reading And Southend in August 2017.

This was a section in that post.

The Long Distance Class 345 Train

Adding Oxford and/or Southend to Crossrail services, may need a sub-class of Class 345 train to be created, due to the length of the journey. Toilets would be the obvious addition.

As an example, the safeguarded Reading and Gravesend service would be eighty-three miles.

  • A Reading and Paddington service takes fifty-seven minutes for the thirty-six miles.
  • At that speed Reading and Gravesend would take two hours and eleven minutes.
  • Even Reading and Shenfield will will take only nine minutes less than two hours.

Will all passengers be able to hold on for these lengths of time?

100 mph Capability

Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains are 100 mph trains, but their sisters on the Elizabeth Line are only 90 mph trains.

So if the trains are to work perhaps to Gravesend, Oxford or Southend would a 100 mph capability be needed?

Conclusion

If the Elizabeth Line is extended, there may be a need for trains to be updated.

June 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

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

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

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

Note.

  1. The single-platform Bow Street station cost £8 million.
  2. The single-platform Soham station cost nearly £22 million, but it has a bridge.
  3. Reopening the Okehampton branch and refurbishing Okehampton station cost £40 million.

I think costs will be very tight.

Possible Train Services

This is said in the article about the train service on the branch.

While third rail electrification was originally proposed, this idea has been discarded in favour of self-powered trains on the branch, such as battery-operated trains. Possible destinations include Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet for interchange with trains going to London, or extension of London to Dartford or Gravesend services over the branch, using hybrid third-rail/battery trains.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail will be using battery-electric trains to provide services to the new Headbolt Lane station, as permission was not available for extending the existing third-rail track.
  • Electrification would probably cost more than providing a charging system at Hoo station.
  • Turning the trains at Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet could be difficult and a new bay platform would probably break the budget.
  • Both Dartford and Gravesend have two trains per hour (tph), that could be extended to the new Hoo station.
  • Hoo junction to Hoo station is no more than five or six miles.
  • The Dartford services have a possible advantage in that they stop at Abbey Wood station for Crossrail.
  • It may be easier to run services through Gravesend station, if the terminating service from Charing Cross were to be extended to Hoo station.
  • A two tph service between London Charing Cross and Hoo stations, with intermediate stops at at least London Bridge, Lewisham, Abbey Wood and Dartford would probably be desirable.

I feel that the most affordable way to run trains to Hoo station will probably be to use battery-electric trains, which are extended from Gravesend.

It may even be possible to run trains to Hoo station without the need of a charging system at the station, which would further reduce the cost of infrastructure.

Possible Trains

Consider.

  • According to Wikipedia, stopping Gravesend services are now run by Class 376, Class 465, Class 466 and Class 707 trains.
  • Real Time Trains indicate that Gravesend services are run by pathed for 90 mph trains.
  • Class 376, Class 465 and Class 466 trains are only 75 mph trains.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains and only entered service in 2017.

I wonder, if Siemens designed these trains to be able to run on battery power, as several of their other trains can use batteries, as can their New Tube for London.

In Thoughts On The Power System For The New Tube for London, I said this.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled London Underground Deep Tube Upgrade.

This is an extract.

More speculatively, there might be a means to independently power a train to the next station, possibly using the auxiliary battery, in the event of traction power loss.

Batteries in the New Tube for London would have other applications.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Moving trains in sidings and depots with no electrification.

It should be born in mind, that battery capacity for a given weight of battery will increase before the first New Tube for London runs on the Piccadilly line around 2023.

A battery-electric train with a range of fifteen miles and regenerative braking to battery would probably be able to handle a return trip to Hoo station.

An Update In The July 2022 Edition Of Modern Railways

This is said on page 75.

More positive is the outlook for restoration of passenger services on the Hoo branch, where 12,000 new houses are proposed and Medway Council is looking to build a new station halfway down the branch to serve them. As the branch is unelectrified, one idea that has been looked at is a shuttle with a Vivarail battery train or similar, turning round at Gravesend or another station on the main line.

Steve White worries that this could mean spending a lot of money on infrastructure work and ending up with what would be a sub-optimal solution. ‘Do people really want to sit on a train for 10 minutes before having to get out and change onto another train? I don’t think so. Ideally what you want is through trains to London, by extending the Gravesend terminators to Hoo.’

That would require a battery/third rail hybrid unit, but Mr. White thinks that is far from an outlandish proposal; with Networker replacement on the horizon, a small bi-mode sub-fleet could dovetail neatly with a stock renewal programme. Medway Council and rail industry representatives are working on coming up with a solution for Hoo that could do what it does best; facilitating economic regeneration in a local area.

Note that Steve White is Managing Director of Southeastern.

I’ll go along with what he says!

Conclusion

I believe that a well-designed simple station and branch line could be possible within the budget.

A battery-electric upgrade to Class 707 trains could be a solution.

But the trains could be very similar to those needed for Uckfield and to extend electric services in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

When I started to write Along The North Kent Line, I didn’t think that my conclusions would involve Crossrail.

I was wrong, so I’ve decided to write about extending Crossrail to Gravesend as a separate post.

Crossrail to Gravesend

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry 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.

So it would appear that the route is safeguarded to Gravesend and Hoo Junction and it remains on statute.

Current Services At Gravesend

At present, Gravesend station has the following typical Off Peak service.

  • 2 trains per hour (tph) Highspeed services in each direction between London St. Pancras, Ebbsfleet International 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.

Gravesend As A Crossrail Terminal

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

Gravesend and Hoo Junction, will work very much like London Bridge and Cannon Street, where trains call at the first station and are reversed at the latter. Hoo Junction would just be a depot and a set of sidings.

I also think that the facilities at Hoo Junction could be built with minimal electrification, as the Crossrail Class 345 trains may have enough onboard energy storage to handle movement in depots and remote wake-up, which I discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?.

Class 345 trains have an auto-reverse ability which I talked about in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse. Will this be used to turn the trains at Hoo?

Crossrail’s Service To Abbey Wood

At present, Wikipedia is saying this will be the Morning Peak Crossrail 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

This gives totals of 12 tph in the Peak and 8 tph in the Off Peak.

Crossrail Frequency To Gravesend

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

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

I think that 4 tph could probably be fitted into the timetables between Abbey Wood and Gravesend. This would give.

  • 10 tph between Abbey Wood and Dartford
  • 12 tph between Dartford and Gravesend.

Six of the trains between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be the two hundred metro long trains of Crossrail and Thameslink.

As the signalling is all new, I suspect that the line could cope.

The service level does generate some questions.

  • Would Thameslink need to run a twelve-car train on the Rainham to Luton service?
  • Dartford is a big winner, so will the other services from Dartford be re-routed?
  • How many services would stop at Greenhithe for Bluewater?
  • How would Crossrail’s Western destinations be allocated between Abbey Wood and Gravesend?

Connecting To Ebbsfleet International

I think it is essential that Crossrail connects to Continental train services and as the cross-London line goes nowhere near to St. Pancras, the connection must be made at either the draughty Stratford International or the truly dreadful Ebbsfleet International.

Talk about choosing the lesser of two evils, one of which; Stratford, should but doesn’t have Continental services!

So the connection between the Crossrail, Thameslink and the North Kent Line and Ebbsfleet International must be improved.

Possible connections could be.

  • A shuttle bus from Northfleet station.
  • A decent people mover or travellator from Northfleet station
  • A shuttle bus from Gravesend.
  • More train services from Gravesend.

There is of course the option of creating a proper rail link. But that would be expensive.

I think that as the number of trains stopping at Northfleet station will be somewhere around ten tph in each direction, a frequent shuttle bus might be a good option to start with.

The problem with the trains, is that there is only two tph between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

Building The Crossrail Extension

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 as it is planned on opening, even if some go further down the line.
  • The signalling would have to be adjusted for the new service pattern. But thre signalling has been upgraded!

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.

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

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 8 Comments

Crossrail Extension To Gravesend

A possible Crossrail Extension to Gravesend has been safeguarded, although  because Crossrail doesn’t call at St. Pancras for Eurostar, I feel that extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station to catch Continental trains there, would be part of any extension to Gravesend.

This Google Map shows both Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend stations.

Ebbsfleet International And Gravesend Stations

Ebbsfleet International And Gravesend Stations

Ebbsfleet International is to the West and Gravesend is to the East.

There would have to be some major construction work, but it would probably be feasible.

However this Google Map of Gravesend Station shows a serious problem.

Gravesend Station

Gravesend Station

As can be seen, it is a very cramped site. These pictures show the station.

I doubt any extension to Gravesend will terminate at Gravesend station.

There is a page on the Crossrail web site, which is entitled Safeguarding. This is said.

An additional extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend and Hoo Junction, has been safeguarded however there are no current plans to extend the railway beyond the route currently identified.

This is a Google Map of the Hoo Junction area to the East of Gravesend.

Hoo Junction

Hoo Junction

Currently, it is occupied by a freight yard. It certainly could be used as the terminus, but it is about ten kilometres East of Ebbsfleet International station.

So could a train on the North Kent Line that runs from the current Crossrail terminus at Abbey Wood to Gravesend, do a detour to Ebbsfleet International?

This Google Map shows the lines in the Ebbsfleet International area.

Lines Around Ebbsfleet

Lines Around Ebbsfleet

The North Kent Line starts in the top left at Swanscombe station, crosses over the lines into Ebbsfleet International. It then goes through Northfleet station, before going off in a South-Easterly direction to Gravesend.

A connection could surely be built so that after passing Swanscombe station, the trains on the North Kent Line could pass through Ebbsfleet International, rather than through Northfleet station.

An alternative would be to provide a proper connection perhaps using a travelator between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations.

One problem to sort out would be the level of services through Abbey Wood, that continue on to Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend.

 

 

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments