The Anonymous Widower

The Channel Crossing Problem

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

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

I have heard over the years of these inadequacies,

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

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

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

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

We have to be bold.

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

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.


  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)


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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 station may be a possibility.

Maidstone West

Maidstone West station may be a possibility.


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 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.


  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.


This seems an excellent plan.






June 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Are We Going To Do For The Lower Thames Crossing?

This report in the Thurrock Gazette is entitled Over a thousand residents make anger known at Lower Thames Crossing meeting tonight and it describes the anger in the area over the proposed new Lower Thames Crossing. This map from this BBC report, shows the proposed route.

The Proposed Lower Thames Crossing

The Proposed Lower Thames Crossing

I don’t drive, but I do appreciate that there is extra capacity across the Lower Thames is needed to relieve the Dartford Crossing.

So what should be done?

I think that whether or not a new Lower Thames Crossing is built, we should give people alternative routes to cross the river.

Crossrail may help in that some cross river journeys like say from Kent to Essex, may be quicker by the following route.

Obviously, it won’t suit everybody, but the design of Whitechapel station has been designed to facilitate journeys like this.

I think that the Abbey Wood branch should be extended to Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend, as soon as possible. This extension is safeguarded but not planned.

It would probably help too, if the interchange between SouthEastern’s HighSpeed services and Crossrail at Stratford wasn’t a long hike round the Eastfield Shopping Centre.

Surely, the real problem is freight.

This will only be eased by putting more of it on rail from Europe to the UK.

In the end another Thames Crossing will be built and this should also solve the problem of a bigger Thames Barrier.



February 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

There’s A Lot Happening Around Tilbury And Gravesend

Look at this Google Map of the Thames around Tilbury and Gravesend.

Tilbury And Gravesend

Tilbury And Gravesend

The North (Tilbury) Bank

Note the following.

Interspersed between the developments is the usual estuarine mix of creeks, salt-flats, a couple of nature reserves and lots of wildlife.

It may not be everybody’s idea of a place to have a good time, but there is a lot going on.

Developments On The North Bank

Several factors will drive developments in the area.

  • London needs housing and is already developing large numbers of houses and flats at Barking Riverside, which is a few miles to the East.
  • Will there be more housing developments along the river?
  • Crossrail will arrive in the next few years and will pass a few miles away to the North, through Romford station.
  • London Gateway might want their staff to come and go by train or light rail.
  • There is a need for another Thames crossing and how does a possible Lower Thames Crossing, which could cross Thames by East Tilbury, fit into the mix?

Many would argue that there should be better public transport along the north bank of the river.

The Gravesend (South) Bank

Note the following.

  • The Swanscombe Peninsular in the top left corner of the map.
  • Swanscombe and Northfleet stations on the North Kent Line, which runs to the North of Ebbsfleet International station.
  • According to Wikipedia, the walking routes between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations are not the best.
  • Gravesend station is in the middle of the town and the Ferry to Tilbury is within walking distance.
  • Hoo Junction, which is just off the map to the East is safeguarded as the end of a possible extension to Crossrail.

In contrast to the North Bank, the South Bank seems to have much more housing and a lot less green space and industrial development.

Developments On The South Bank

Like the North Bank, there is also development on the South.

I don’t know the Gravesend and the South Bank well, but on my walks in the last few months, it strikes me that there needs to be some public transport improvements.

Transport Improvements

Transport improvements in Tilbury, Gravesend and the surrounding area fall into three categories.

  • Tilbury and the North Bank
  • Gravesend and the South Bank
  • Cross-River

In some ways the last is the most difficult, as other factors like a new Thames Estuary airport and a higher Thames Barrier must also be considered. The Wikipedia entry for the Lower Thames Crossing gives some options and says this about Option C.

A new road crossing connecting the M2 and M20 motorways in the south with the M25, which might be linked via a proposed new Thames flood barrier. The route from the north would pass close to South Ockendon, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary, West Tilbury, East Tilbury, across West Tilbury Marshes before it crossed the Thames just to the east of Gravesend and Thurrock. It would join the M2 in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Special Landscape Area. This proposed link is also within the Kent Downs AONB and special landscape area. According to the DfT, this long route would have “considerable environmental impacts”.

It won’t be a small fight to get that option built.

I will list the possible public transport improvements in the area.


Crossrail is more than just a major East-West route across London.

It is effectively a four-branch railway.

  • Abbey Wood – Connecting to Kent
  • Heathrow
  • Reading (or Paddington) – Connecting to the West Country and Wales
  • Shenfield or Liverpool Street) – Connecting to East Anglia

I believe that Crossrail should be considered as a two line railway, by including the equally capable Thameslink, which connects at Farrington and adds the following major branches.

  • Bedford (or St. Pancras) – Connecting to the East Midlands and Sheffield
  • Brighton and Gatwick
  • Peterborough (or Kings Cross) – Connecting to Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland

The major lines not connected to either Crossrail or Thameslink are the West Coast Main Line and the lines out of Waterloo and Marylebone.

Although care is being taken to create a good passenger link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington.

The connectivity of the Crossrail/Thameslink system will be further improved by some smaller schemes.

There are two possible feeder lines in the area I am considering in this post.

Whatever happens Crossrail will become important to those in Kent, who want to get to the Southern part of Essex, as it will be a walk across platforms at Whitechapel.

At present from Abbey Wood to Shenfield takes about ninety minutes with two changes, but when Crossrail opens with a ten metre level walk at Whitechapel, it could be as short as fifty-two minutes.

Don’t underestimate how Crossrail will change the lives of everybody, who, lives, works or visits.

A Romford To London Gateway Train Service

I strongly believe that a train service from Romford to the London Gateway will eventually happen.

Consider the following.

  • As London Gateway develops, it is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs, which in turn will put enormous pressures on the roads.
  • A full service would improve connectivity to the large Lakeside Shopping Centre.
  • This could become an important feeder route to Crossrail.
  • The northern part of the route is the Romford to Upminster line, which is operated by London Overground as a shuttle using a dedicated train and platforms at the ends of the line.
  • London Overground is increasing services on the Romford to Upminster Line, so they must believe there is a need.
  • Track and electrification for the line is complete, although there would need to be some changes at Upminster.
  • c2c and London Overground are both very ambitious train operating companies.

We have evolving needs, an ease of creating the service, and ambition, which all work in favour of  implementing the service.

This route map from Wikipedia shows the stations in the area.

North Bank Lines

A full service on the route could  call at these stations?

The service could also call at Tilbury Riverside, as services used to do. This would serve the London Cruise Terminal and Tilbury Fort.

I wrote Exploring Tilbury Riverside about this area.

This is one of those ideas, that should be filed under Watch This Space.

Crossrail Extension To Gravesend

I wrote Crossrail Extension To Gravesend on this and the extension brings benefits.

  • It will give vastly improved connections from Central London to East Kent and East Sussex.
  • It would make Crossrail an even better option than driving across the Dartford Crossing.
  • It would mean that Heathrow Airport had a direct link to Continental rail services at Ebbsfleet International.
  • Ebbsfleet International is one of the few stations that could be an enormous Park-and-Ride station.
  • The proposed depot at Hoo could be good for both Crossrail in terms of flexibility and East Kent, in terms of employment.

I think this extension of Crossrail will happen.

Barking To The Dartford Crossing

I’m including this map, as it shows the nature of the area.

Barking To The Dartford Crossing

Barking To The Dartford Crossing

Barking is in the top left and the The Dartford Crossing is in the bottom right of the map.

Note the following.

  • The east-west main road just north of the river is the A13.
  • Dagenham Dock station is on this road with the Barking Riverside development below it and to the south-west.
  • To the south-east of the station, there is a large amount of industry.
  • The Beckton Sewage Works are on the North Bank, with Crossness on the south.
  • As you get towards the Dartford Crossing, the green space is Rainham Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve, with closer to the crossing Purfleet.

It is an area for those with imagination.

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line is to the west and is being extended to Barking Riverside, where tens of thousands of homes are being developed.

The Transport for London Plan for 2050, says this.

An extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside is currently being planned to open up development of a major new quarter with 11,500 new homes.

A potential further extension could involve crossing the river to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, where there are major regeneration needs and major opportunities for new housing developments.

My view is that if you give Barking Riverside connections to the north, west and south, perhaps a connection to the east to Dagenham Dock station on c2c is needed as well.

The Docklands Light Railway

The original plan for the area envisaged extending the Docklands Light Railway to Dagenham Dock. Wikipedia says this.

It is unlikely to go ahead as there are plans to bring the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside giving better links to Barking and East London and via Barking station to Central London. This will however cause the Docklands Light Railway to not head east and have connections to c2c rail services at Dagenham Dock, so this extension could still take place and the two services would have an interchange at Barking Riverside.

I do think that some transport planners look with disdain at the Docklands Light Railway, but generally the over a hundred million rides taken on the system every year, give another view.

With the emphasis on leisure and with green issues to the fore, I could see the system reaching the Nature Reserve at Rainham.

The Docklands Light Railway is East London’s good fairy and she has ways of surprising everybody.

The Poor Connectivity Of HS1

HS1 must be one of the worst designed railways in Europe.

Currently, HS2 is being designed and great care is being taken to ensure that there is good connectivity all along the route. These are a few examples.

  • Old Oak Common station will be a hub in North West London.
  • Tram routes will reach Birmingham Curzon Street station long before HS2 does.
  • Birmingham Interchange will be linked to Birmingham Airport
  • Trams have already reached the area of the Nottingham HS2 station at Totton.
  • HS2 will call at Crewe, which is a major railway hub.

On the other hand, two of HS1’s intermediate stations have very poor connectivity.

  • Stratford International only has a direct link to the Docklands Light Railway.
  • Ebbsfleet International has very poor direct links to classic lines.

Neither station has a direct connection to Crossrail.

HS1 seems to been designed with very limited objectives in mind, one of which was to win the Olympics for 2012.

Crossing The River

There is no doubt that there is a need for more capacity across the lower Thames and there are several plans for a Lower Thames Crossing.

Other plans have included a combined rail and road link between Medway and Canvey Island and the latest proposal has been London’s plan for a Gospel Oak to Barking Line Extension to Abbey Wood.

It is also worth noting, that the distance between Tilbury Riverside and Gravesend is probably about the same as the distance spanned by the Emirates Air-Line at Greenwich.

Also, could modern ferries provide a better and more reliable link?

The only plan being implemented that will help get people cross the Thames at the present time, is Crossrail. It will be interesting to see how Dartford Crossing traffic changes, when Crossrail opens.

I think Crossrail could be part of quite a proportion of Cross-River traffic.

  • It links with the twenty-four trains per hour North-South links of Thameslink and the East London Line.
  • It links with West London and Heathrow.
  • If it served Ebbsfleet International, that would become a valuable Park-and-Ride station.
  • It passes right through the heart of London, as opposed to HS1 and the classic lines from the South, which terminate slightly to the North and South respectively.
  • I think one of the limiting factors on people switching from car to Crossrail, may well be the availability of car parking at Crossrail stations and especially those like Abbey Wood and Shenfield.

It is a pity that HS1 was so badly designed, as if Stratford International and Ebbsfleet International stations, were both better connected, then the Highspeed services on the line would be a valuable cross-River link.

I wrote about the poor connectivity of Ebbsfleet Internation to classic lines in So Near And Yet So Far!

My personal preference for another connection would be to build a bridge between Barking Riverside and Thamesmead, to take the Gospel Oak to Barking Line over rather than under the Thames, if this was possible. I would use tram-trains on the railway, that if required did a walkabout around the estates as trams on both sides of the river. The bridge would also be open to cyclists and pedestrians.

Properly designed, the bridge could be a visitor attraction in its own right!

Will Floods And Europe Solve The Problem?

If Crossrail/Thameslink is one elephant in the room, then flood protection for London and Europe are the others!

This is a Google Map of the Thames Estuary from Tilbury and Gravesend in the West to Southend in the East.

Gravesend And Tilbury To Southend

Gravesend And Tilbury To Southend

As I write this piece, the North West of England is suffering the ravages of Hurricane Desmond. Weather seems to be getting more extreme and the North Sea hasn’t had a major disaster since the North Sea Flood of 1953. This is from Wikipedia.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations. The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland. In England, 307 people were killed in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Nineteen were killed in Scotland.

Desmond is very much a pussy-cat compared to what nature can and will throw at us.

In 1953, we had fewer casualties than the Dutch because our warnings were better and one would hope that because of universal television and better communications another North Sea Flood on the scale of 1953, would probably be less costly in lives lost.

The Dutch have determined that the sea shall not have them and have created impressive defences all along the coast call ed the Delta Works.

We have improved the defences along the Thames Estuary and London is now protected by the Thames Barrier.

In a section on the Future of the Thames Barrier in Wikipedia, this is said.

The barrier was originally designed to protect London against a very high flood level (with an estimated return period of one hundred years) up to the year 2030, after which the protection would decrease, whilst remaining within acceptable limits. At the time of its construction, the barrier was expected to be used 2–3 times per year. It is now being used 6–7 times per year.

It also says that the barrier would be replaced after 2070.

My cautious nature says that is a date that is too far in the future.

So why will Europe have such a large affect on the Thames Estuary?

Many predictions say that over the future, London will grow and become an even more powerful magnet for the people of Europe.

Europe itself will also become more prosperous, so we will see massive increase in both freight and road traffic across the channel.

The Channel Tunnel is unique amongst many major fixed cross-water links, in that it can be easily augmented by ferries, but I believe that people, vehicles and freight, will increasingly be on longer journeys on rail. Think about the effect of these developments.

  • The destinations served by direct train from St. Pancras will increase.
  • Cross-channel car traffic will increase.
  • The Dutch and the Germans have built th Betuweroute, which is high-capacity freight route.
  • Vehicle imports and exports are increasingly handled by special trains.
  • Liverpool is building a massive new container port. A lot of the freight could go by train to Europe.

I believe that a second fixed-link across the Channel will be built, which will in itself generate more trains to and from London and vehicular traffic to and from everywhere in the UK.

Improving the rail and road networks both suffer from the same problem – London.

  • Freight trains can get to and from Barking on HS1, but there is little spare capacity through London.
  • Passenger trains will increasingly be constrained by lack of capacity at St. Pancras, but using Ebbsfleet International and an extended Crossrail, would be a more than acceptable alternative for many travellers.
  • Road traffic will clog the Dartford Crossing and the Southern section of the M25.

The only solution is to create a new road and rail corridor to get around London.

As London will need a new flood barrier, probably we should start with an idea similar to Option C for a new Lower Thames Crossing.

A new road crossing connecting the M2 and M20 motorways in the south with the M25, which might be linked via a proposed new Thames flood barrier. The route from the north would pass close to South Ockendon, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary, West Tilbury, East Tilbury, across West Tilbury Marshes before it crossed the Thames just to the east of Gravesend and Thurrock. It would join the M2 in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Special Landscape Area. This proposed link is also within the Kent Downs AONB and special landscape area. According to the DfT, this long route would have “considerable environmental impacts”.

Given enough time to generate a full plan, we can probably come up with a better route, perhaps further to the East.




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