The Anonymous Widower

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.


  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.


  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

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 probsbly 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 travelator 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 | , , , , | 8 Comments