The Anonymous Widower

Up To £3 Billion For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract.

Current estimates gave a cost range of between £1.3 billion and £3 billion, which Mr. Williams said depended on whether services shared tracks with existing Southeastern services east of Abbey Wood or had their own segregated tracks.

Mr. Williams is Transport for London’s Direct of City  Planning; Alex Williams.

This Google Map shows Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.

Note.

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

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

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

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

How much did omitting the link save?

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

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

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

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

To me, it is one of the great mysteries of the building of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, that this pedestrian link wasn’t built.

I think, in future, we could come to regret that it wasn’t built along with the rest of Ebbsfleet International station in the early 2000s.

The extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet is about the following.

  • Creating a high-frequency railway to serve all the new housing developments in the Thames Gateway and along the South Bank of the Thames.
  • Connecting  Ebbsfleet International station and other developments around the station to Crossrail.

In some ways, these two objectives are incompatible.

  • To serve the housing developments along the river, the Crossrail extension needs to run roughly along the route of the North Kent Line.
  • To serve Ebbsfleet International station, the route needs to be further inland.

Choosing either route is going to annoy people who live on the other.

For this reason, I feel we need a good old-fashioned British compromise or some very-radical thinking.

Current Services Along The North Kent Line

I shall start by looking at current services on the North Kent Line.

Thameslink – Luton And Rainham (Kent)

A Thameslink service

  • Two trains per hour (tph)
  • South of the Thames, the service calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Whatcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Eight-car Class 700 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for interchange with Crossrail.

If there needed to be more capacity on this service, I suspect Thameslink could run twelve-car trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Gravesend

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, New Eltham, Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station.
  • The service calls at Gravesend for interchange with Southeastern HighSpeed services between St. Pancras International station and North-East Kent, East Kent and soon-to-be East Sussex.
  • Class 465 trains work the route, which have a 75 mph operating speed.

This picture shows a train for Gravesend in London Bridge station.

My feeling, is that the service would be improved by modern 100 mph trains, as these antique slow-coaches must restrict the speed of faster trains.

Southeastern – London Cannon Street And Dartford Loop Line

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Four tph in both directions.
  • Calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Two tph return to Cannon Street via Crayford and Sidcup and two tph return to Cannon Street via Barnehurst and Bexleyheath.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the previous service, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Dartford

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the two previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Dover

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Ramsgate

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • One tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London St. Pancras And Faversham

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Sittingbourne.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed on lines electrified using a third-rail.

This picture shows a Class 395 train at Gravesend station.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International Loop Service

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Martin Mill, Dover Priory, Folkestone Central, Folkestone West, Ashord International, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ebbslfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International And Ramsgate

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Ramsgate and Broadstairs
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ashford International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between London Bridge and Faversham.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 6 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

This is almost a train every ten minutes all the way from London to Faversham.

In addition Ebbsfleet International has four tph to and from London St. Pancras International.

Could Extra Services Be Run Along The North Kent Line?

Consider.

  • Six tph is not a high frequency for a relatively simple route like this.
  • The East London Line, which has about the same level of complication easily handles sixteen tph and it is planned to go to twenty tph in the next couple of years.
  • Digital signalling and Automatic Train Control will handle twenty-four tph on Crossrail and Thameslink.
  • Freight trains do not run at a high frequency on the route.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another eight-ten tph added to the route.

How Many Trains Should Terminate At Ebbsfleet?

Currently, Crossrail has six fully-planned and built terminals.

  • Abbey Wood will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 will handle four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 will handle two tph all day
  • Maidenhead will handle two tph all day.
  • Reading will handle four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak
  • Shenfield will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak

It would appear that most terminals only handle between two and four tph.

I very much suspect, that research will show that four tph to and from Ebbsfleet will be sufficient.

It certainly meets the requirement for a Turn-Up-And-Go service, as used by London Overground and Merseyrail.

Possible Terminals For Crossrail In Kent

Wikipedia gives services to Abbey Wood station under Services as follows.

  • Peak – Twelve tph
  • Off Peak – Ten tph

There are several possible terminals for Crossail in Kent

Gravesend Station

When Crossrail was planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend station, with a depot at Hoo Junction to the East.

This section in Wikipedia, which is entitled To Gravesend And Hoo Junction, gives more details. This is the first sentence.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme.

These pictures show Gravesend station.

The station is well-appointed and has good services.

  • The station is close to the Town Centre.
  • It is step-free.
  • There is a West-facing bay platform, which is currently used for a two tph service to Charing Cross.
  • The platforms are very long.
  • HighSpeed commuter services and Thameslink call at the station.

Crossrail services could either terminate in the bay platform or run through the station to a turnback siding at Hoo Junction.

Either way, I’m sure four tph could be easily handled.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International station is named in the title of this post and many are expecting that Crossrail will be extended to the station.

This Google Map shows this station.

Note.

  1. The High Speed platforms 1 to 4, for St. Pancras, Ashford International and the Continent are to the left.
  2. The two separate platforms 5 and 6 for high-speed services to and from North Kent.
  3. The large amount of car parking around the station.

It’s not obvious, where a platform or two for Crossrail could fit in.

The Wikipedia entry for Ebbsfleet International station, says this about Crossrail.

It was formerly planned that Crossrail would terminate at a separate station between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International but under the current plan, Abbey Wood further west will be the eastern terminus. However, a Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend (Hoo Junction) remains safeguarded

Perhaps, Crossrail platforms could be on the Northfleet side of the station, to the North of platforms 5 and 6.

If two platforms are good enough for Abbey Wood station, then surely, two platforms would be sufficient at Ebbsfleet International station.

This Google Map shows where the North Kent Line rrosses the Channel Tunnel Rail Link about five hundred metres North of Ebbsfleet station.

Could a flyover or dive-under be created to create a spur from the North Kent Line, that would allow Crossrail trains to sneak down the Eastern side of the high speed lines to platforms, alongside the current Platforms 5 and 6?

This picture was taken from a train on the bridge that carries the North Kent Line over the high speed lines.

I suspect there is a solution in there somewhere.

One interesting possibility could be for the Crossrail trains to share Platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station with the HighSpeed commuter services to North Kent.

This picture shows the flying junction, where the tracks through Platforms 5 and 6, join the North Kent Line between Northfleet and Gravesend stations.

As currently, only two tph use the link, surely, Crossrail services of four tph could share, if they were to go through Ebbsfleet International and terminate at Gravesend?

I’m not an expert on designing bridges, but to my untrained eye, a flyover to connect the Ebbsfleet loop to the North Kent Line to the West of the station, wouldn’t be much more complicated, than the flyover to the East.

I think, a loop to serve Ebbsfleet would have other advantages.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to and from St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Perhaps, it’s a better idea, than I originally thought?

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station has been designed to handle twelve tph.

The picture shows the four platforms at Abbey Wood station with a Class 345 train in one of the two Crossrail platforms.

  • Two platforms can handle twelve tph.
  • A turnback facility that has been built at the station to handle more trains or service recovery.
  • There are three bridges, two escalators and at least two lifts to facilitate transfer between Crossrail and other services.
  • Platforms are spacious.
  • There is a wide gate line controlling entry to the station.
  • The station is well-served by buses, but car parking is limited.

It is one of the better new stations and would certainly have no problems handling the eight tph, it would need to in the Peak, if four tph, carried on to terminate at Ebbsfleet.

Dartford Station

Dartford station probably has claims to be terminal for Crossrail.

It is a large town, clustered around the station.

There is a lot of new housing close to the station.

It has regularly services to several London terminals, by a variety of routes.

But it appears to be a very cramped station with narrow platforms, as some of these pictures shows.

Services at the station include.

  • Eight tph – Charing Cross
  • Two tph – Victoria
  • Four tph – Gravesend

Thameslink also run two tph between Luton and Rainham.

It is much-more a station where travellers change trains, than one where services terminate..

But even for that it needs improvement.

My Preferred Crossrail Option

I would extend Crossrail to Ebbsfleet in a simple manner, that was capable of being expanded, as traffic needs changed in the future.

Four tph Would Continue Through Abbey Wood Station

I feel that a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet, of four tph would be sufficient, especially if other services on the route, were to be increased in frequency and capacity.

Services Would Terminate At Gravesend Station

The original safeguarded plan for Crossrail to be extended to Gravesend, with a depot at Hoo Junction, is in my mind a good plan.

  • Gravesend station is probably Crossrail-ready.
  • Gravesend station could handle the turnround of Crossrail running at a frequency of four tph.
  • There is plenty of space for a depot at Hoo Junction.

But perhaps most importantly,, it is the original plan suggested in the original design of Crossrail.

Have decisions been made by the various councils on the extended route, based on this plan?

Crossrail Services Would Use The North Kent Line

The extended Crossrail service would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

Frequencies of trains at the stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph

In addition, Gravesend would have ten tph to and from London.

Handling these frequencies on a modern double-track railway shouldn’t be a problem.

Will Digital Signalling Be Needed?

Crossrail and Thameslink are both digitally signalled and will use a degree of Automatic Train Control, to handle up to twenty-four tph.

I could see advantages in applying similar systems to the Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.

Merging Of Services Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Services through both these stations would include.

  • 4 tph – Crossrail between London and Ebbsfleet/Gravesend
  • 2 tph – Thameslink between Luton and Rainham, which don’t stop at Belvedere.
  • 4 tph – Southeastern which are the Dartford Loop service to and from Cannon Street.
  • 2 tph – Southeastern between Charing Cross and Dartford

The current track layout appears to allow Crossrail trains to access the North Kent Line, but Class 345 trains are not fitted with shoes for third-rail elecrification.

This Google Map shows the Western end of Belvedere station.

Note how there appears to be space on either side of the double track, which continues as far as Abbey Wood station.

I suspect that a track layout can be designed between the two stations, so that trains can merge and diverge efficiently between the four tracks at Abbey Wood and the two tracks at Belvedere.

Digital signalling would make it easier.

Station Improvement Between Abbey Wood and Grsvesend Stations

As I indicated earlier, Dartford station would need improvement.

On the other hand Abbey Wood, Greenhithe for Bluewater and Gravesend will need very little modification.

I also suspect, Dartford would not be the only station, that will need improvement.

All stations would be made step-free.

A Loop For Ebbsfleet International Station

I feel that the best way to give access to Ebbsfleet International station would be to create a loop from the North Kent Line and use the current island platform 5 and 6 at the station for Crossrail as well.

The Eastern end of the loop has already been built to a high standard and it would only need a Western connection to be designed and constructed.

I’ll repeat the advantanges of this scheme, I listed earlier.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Each side of the he island platform 5 and 6 would handle.

  • Two tph – HighSpeed commuter services.
  • Four tph – Crossrail services.

They may even be able to handle more trains in the future.

Will Crossrail’s Class 345 Trains Fleet Need Upgrading?

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains have a 90 mph operating speed, as opposed to the 100 mph operating speed of Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Southeastern Class 465 trains are even slower at 75 mph.

If all trains working the North Kent Line were 100 mph trains, it would surely make a robust timetable easier to create and operate.

I would expect that in a few years time, all trains working between London and Kent will be capable of at least 100 mph.

Where Will Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International Services Terminate In The West?

The obvious terminal would surely be Heathrow, as this would give a useful service Heathrow and Continental rail services, without the need to change trains.

Wikipedia is quoting 52 minutes between Heathrow and Abbey Wood on Crossrail and current times give  twenty-three minutes between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations, with perhaps four minutes less to Ebbsfleet in the future.

So timings could be as follows.

  • Heathrow and Ebbsfleet – 75 minutes
  • Heathrow and Gravesend – 79 minutes

Surely, this will be better than struggling around a crowded M25.

Southeastern HighSpeed Commuter Service Improvements

The Southeastern franchise may change later in the year and speculation has started on what this will mean for services and the trains used.

A Revamped HighSpeed Service

In an article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Kent On The Cusp Of Change, some well-founded speculation is made about the future of the HighSpeed commuter service.

  • More Class 395 trains or similar need to be procured.
  • A new service between St. Pancras and Hastings is planned.
  • An all-day service between St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Gravesend.
  • An extra two tph between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet International.
  • A second London terminal may be opened at possibly Waterloo or even Victoria.

Only the Maidstone West service would pass through platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station and would add a third hourly HighSpeed service.

In some ways, it might be better for HighSpeed services to run at four tph between Gravesend and St. Pancras via  Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International, as this would fit much better with a four tph Crossrail service.

Improvements To Stratford International Station

Pedestrian routes between the various services and the Olympic Park at Stratford International station are not good.

  • If HighSpeed services are going to be expanded, then it is only right that Stratford International station is improved, to a good modern connectivity standard.
  • If Stansted Airport and Cambridge services serve Stratford in the future, then there must be an easy pedestrian route between the two services.
  • Connectivity between HighSpeed and Great Eastern Main Line and Crossrail services is particularly poor.
  • The HighSpeed platforms at Stratford International station are bleak and draughty and need improvement.

It’s almost as if, the whole station complex was designed for the Eastfield Shopping Centre.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra HighSpeed sevices.

  • St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Strood.
  • St Pancras and Faversham.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 8 tph to London and 7 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 6 tph
  • Rochester – 8 tph
  • Chatham – 8 tph
  • Gillingham – 8 tph
  • Rainham – 8 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

Thameslink Improvements

My only thought about Thamesink, is that if Crossrail and Southeastern’s HighSpeed services run at a frequency of four tph, through Gravesend, then surely Thameslink should run at the same frequency Between St. Pancras and Rainham.

I say St. Pancras rather than Luton, as it would probably be sensible to send the extra two tph up the East Coast Main Line to either Welwyn Garden City, Peterborough or Cambridge.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra Thameslink sevices.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 12 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 18 tph to London via a variety of routes and 12 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 12 tph
  • Swanscombe – 10 tph
  • Northfleet – 6 tph
  • Gravesend – 10 tph to London and 9 tph to the East
  • Higham – 4 tph
  • Strood – 8 tph
  • Rochester – 10 tph
  • Chatham – 10 tph
  • Gillingham – 10 tph
  • Rainham – 10 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

When you consider that these frequencies are obtained by trains running at 100 mph on a railway, that was most;ly built in the mid-nineteenth century and electrified with 750 VDC third rail before the Second World War.

Southeastern Improvements

Both Southeastern’s Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham and their main line services to East Kent will probably be improved under the new franchise holder

  • New or refurbished 100 mph trains will replace the 75 mph Class 465 trains.
  • Dover and Ramsgate will get increased frequencies from Victoria.
  • Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham will be at least a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • The enhanced performance of the new trains would enable faster services and more stops to be made without degrading the timetable.

I feel that it would not be impossible to see every station between London Bridge and Rainham having twelve tph.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

I am not saying a pedestrian link between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International station shouldn’t be built, but consider that the loop through Ebbsfleet International station gives two routes between Swancombe and Gravesend.; one via Northfleet and the other via Ebbsfleet International.

A lot depends on how many passengers will actually want to travel between the two stations.

  • Those from the West could change at a station like Dartford or Greenhithe for Bluewater to a train going to their required destination.
  • Those from the East could change at Gravesend to a train going to their required destination.

All changes would be same-platform changes and the best stations could be encouraged by coffee kiosks and comfortable waiting rooms.

For passengers starting from Northfleet the following rules would apply.

  • Passengers going East would take the first train and change if required at Bravesend, Rochester or their preferred station.
  • Passengers going West would take the first train and change if required.
  • Passengers going to Ebbsfleet International would probably catch the first train for a single stop and then cross-over to the other platform for a train to Ebbsfleet International.

If there were upwards of six tph on both routes and step-free access at all stations, these procedures would not be unduly tiresome.

Similar rules would apply for those starting their journeys at Ebbsfleet International.

Note that, as more trains ran on both routes between Swanscombe and Gravesend, the time to get between the two stations would decrease.

If as seems to be planned, a lot of housing is built on the undeveloped land between the two stations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a progressively-minded developer build a pleasant tree-lined pedestrian and cycling route between the two stations.

This would be mainly to give easy access to the development to the two stations, but it would also link them together.

Conclusion

Everything, I have written in this post is based on sound facts and is possible with today’s technology.

  • 100 mph suburban electric trains have been around for several decades.
  • Digital signalling has been successfully running on Thameslink in the UK and other places in the world for a couple of years.
  • The construction methods to build a loop at Ebbsfleet station are nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

What I have outlined would be much more of a £1.3 billion project than a £3 billion one!

I also believe everything can be achieved without massive disruption or inconvenience to passengers and probably delivered in full by 2025.

It should be noted that North Kent will be reaping the benefit of three major new cross-London high-capacity railways.

  • The Chanel Tunnel Rail Link between Ebbsfleet International and St. Pancras via Stratford International.
  • Crossrail between Abbey Wood and West London via Canary Wharf, the City and West End of London, Paddington and Old Oak Common.
  • Thameslink between Kent and North of London via London Bridge, Blackfriars and St. Pancras.

As cross-London routes continue to develop in future decades, other commuter routes will benefit from similar strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Abbey Wood Station – 21st May 2018

Abbey Wood station has been progressing and I took these pictures.

The layout of the connecting bridges between the Crossrail and North Kent Line platforms is now clear.

  • At the London End, there is a simple footbridge, with steps to each pair of platforms.
  • At the Main Entrance End, there are wide steps and a lift between the station ticket hall and each pair of platforms.
  • The third bridge in the middle is the unusual one with wide steps and a single escalator to each pair of platforms.

I would assume, that the direction of the escalators is as follows.

  • In the Morning Peak, the North Kent Line escalator is set to Up and the Crossrail escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from the North Kent Line to Crossrail.
  • In the Evening Peak, the Crossrail escalator is set to Up and the North Kent Line escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from Crossrail to the the North Kent Line.
  • At other times with less traffic, both escalators would be set to Up.

I have seen a lot of station layouts all over the UK and Europe and never one like this.

I doubt, I’ve even seen a pair of platforms connected by three separate bridges too!

Could it be a design of genius to allow thousands of passengers to change between the two pairs of platforms in a short space of time?

Other station layouts that enable this rate of passenger transfer, like the interchange between Crossrail and the Central Line at Stratford station, arrange for a cross-platform interchange, with lines going in the same direction sharing a common platform.

But that arrangement would have been difficult at Abbey Wood, unless perhaps the Crossrail tunnel emerged closer to the station or a flyover or dive-under were to be built.

Both options would have required more space and would have been a lot more expensive.

The design of Abbey Wood station with its three footbridges and wide platforms, would appear to be a more affordable alternative.

Train Length

In some of the pictures, a Class 345 train is shown in one of the Crossrail platforms.

This is a full-length train, which is 205 metres long.

The pictures show just how long these trains are.

LED Lights On The Stairs

Three of the pictures in the bottom row, show the stair handrails with their light underneath.

I Like them.

 

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

C2E – Crossrail 1 1/2?

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

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

The article starts with these two paragraphs.

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

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

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

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

Specific figures and points include

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

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

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

This map from the article shows the route.

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

Abbey Wood Is Not A Terminal Station

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

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

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

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

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

Ebbsfleet International Would Be A Much Better Terminal Station

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

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

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

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

The Route Would Require Little Major Engineering Works

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

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

Trains Along The North Kent Line

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

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

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

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

The New Southeastern Franchise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This would give the following frequencies along the line.

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

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

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

The Original Plan Was To Extend To Gravesend

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

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.

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

The extended service could always call at both stations.

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

Money and accountants would decide.

Conclusion

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

 

 

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

Should Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

In How Will Chiltern Railways Serve Old Oak Common?, I looked at the possibilities of how Chiltern Main Line services will use the Old Oak Common station complex as an additional London terminus to ease the overcrowding at Marylebone station.

In Will Crossrail Go Up The West Coast Main Line?, I looked at why the extension of Crossrail to Milton Keynes was announced and then cancelled as it was thought to be bad value for money.

But is the general principle of extending Crossrail from Old Oak Common onto a new branch or branches a good idea?

Crossrail Revenue And Profit

If you’re running any railway, you get the highest revenue by running as many trains as you can and making sure that they are full with passengers all the time.

The Central Section of Crossrail between Stratford and Paddington stations will be very heavily used, as it will have to handle the following passenger flows.

  • Passengers from the Abbey Wood Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from Heathrow going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from the Reading Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from the Shenfield Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from National Rail services at Liverpool Street going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from National Rail services at Paddington going to and from Central London

In addition it will also be used as an extra Underground line in Central London

The Central Section will be a cash cow for the Crossrail operator!

The various branches to and from Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield, may well be less heavily used, but will probably see a different type of passenger to the Central Section, who might need more space and hopefully a seat.

The Class 345 Trains

The Class 345 trains have been designed for efficiency and flexibility.

  • I believe that each car is a separate one-car electric train with its own function.
  • Most cars will be motored to distribute traction and braking forces along the train.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a battery in each car to handle regenerative braking.
  • Cars are joined together to make a train of an appropriate length.
  • Initially, the trains are starting at seven cars, but will go to nine cars and possibly ten.
  • The interiors have been designed to satisfy both needs of a long distance commuter train and a London Underground train.

The operator will be able to configure the trains as new routes are added and passenger levels change.

Comparing Crossrail And The Victoria Line

It is worthwhile to compare the Central Section of Crossrail with the Victoria Line.

Crossrail’s Central Section has the following characteristics.

  • Twenty-four trains per hour  (tph) in both directions
  • Automatic train operation (ATO)
  • Full-size trains of up to ten carriages long
  • Platform-edge doors
  • Large stations with lots of wide platforms and passages.
  • Double-ended stations ay Liverpool Street-Moorgate, Barbican-Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.
  • Step-free access
  • Easy access to connecting lines
  • Cross-platform reverse at most stations

Whereas the Victoria Line has the following characteristics.

  • Thirty-six tph in both directions
  • Automatic train operation
  • Tube-size trains of six carriages
  • Small stations with lots of narrow platforms and passages
  • Some step-free access
  • Some easy access to connecting lines
  • Cross-platform reverse at most stations

The two lines show a difference in design, very much in keeping with their construction dates.

One comparison is surprising.

Crossrail is planned to run twenty-four tph through the Central Section, but if Dear Old Vicky can manage 36 tph on a line built in the 1960s with generally cramped stations, surely Crossrail with the benefit of some of the best modern design can do a bit more.

I’ve read that Crossrail could handle thirty tph, but then we wondered in the 1960s at the Victoria Line’s fast trains and high frequency in the twenties between Seven Sisters and Brixton. And look at the old girl now!

Dear Old Vicky is second in frequency to parts of the Moscow Metro, which run a train every 95 seconds, as opposed to the 100 seconds of the Victoria.

I suspect that grates with the engineers of the London Underground, as no-one likes being second.

A few years ago, the engineers thought 33 tph between Brixton and Seven Sisters was the limit but now there is 36 tph all the way along the line.

So will we see further improvements to the Victoria Line like these?

  • A loop at Brixton via Herne Hill station to turn trains at the Southern end of the line.
  • Higher capacity stations at Oxford Circus, Euston, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Highbury and Islington, Finsbury Park and Walthamstow Central.
  • Air-conditioned, walk-through articulated trains
  • Full step-free access at all stations and platforms
  • Improved train control software
  • Improved methods of working

These and other improvements will push the frequency towards the magic forty tph.

Do I think that forty tph is achievable on a line built in the 1960s?

As a Control Engineer, trained in the 1960s, I can only give one answer. And that must be yes!

I feel that the stations are the key, as at times stations like Oxford Circus and Walthamstow Central are struggling to handle the number of passengers. Victoria was like that a few years ago, but the addition of a new entrance and more and wider passages has made the station seem a lot less crowded.

Surely, Dear Old Vicky has shown what is possible, when you take a well designed railway and try to ramp up the capacity!

Various commentators have said Crossrail will handle thirty tph, but why are they not being more ambitious?

Comparing Crossrail And Thameslink

Crossrail and Thameslink have a lot in common.

  • Frequencies of twenty-four tph through their central sections
  • High capacity step-free central stations
  • High-capacity purpose-built trains
  • Automatic Train Control in the central sections.

But there are differences.

  • Crossrail’s central section is straight through from Paddington to Stratford, whereas Thameslink has a junction at Blackfriars.
  • Crossrail’s central section has seven stations, whereas Thameslink has just five.
  • Blackfriars station is also a terminal station on Thameslink’s central section.
  • Crossrail’s stations are generally island platforms, which ease reversing direction, whereas Thameslink’s generally aren’t.
  • Crossrail is 25 KVAC overhead electrification throughout, whereas Thameslink has a voltage change at St. Pancras.

I think that although both lines will be opened at a frequency of 24 tph, raising the frequency on Crossrail will be easier than Thameslink.

The Importance Of Increasing Frequency On Crossrail and Thasmeslink

The train capacity on the two routes are as follows.

  • A nine-car Crossrail Class 345 train can carry 1,500 passengers
  • A twelve-car Thameslink Class 700 train can carry 1,754 passengers
  • A eight-car Thameslink Class 700 train can carry 1,146 passengers

Compare this with an eight-car Victoria Line 2009 Stock train, which holds just 876 passengers.

So if Crossrail went from 24 to 30 tph through the central section, that would add extra capacity for 9,000 passengers per hour, between Stratford and Paddington.

Building Crossrail and upgrading Thameslink will bring London two high-capacity cross-London Underground Lines.

The more the frequencies on those lines can be increased the higher will be the capacity of the Underground network in Central London.

Crossrail’s Shenfield Branch

The Branch to Shenfield station has the following characteristics.

  • It is an almost completely separated double-track railway between Stratford and Shenfield.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • A few of Greater Anglia’s similar Aventra trains may use the route.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially twelve tph will serve the branch

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Shenfield Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph.

That figure might seem high, but consider the following.

  • Shenfield station has three platforms where Crossrail trains can be turned back.
  • Walthamstow Central and Brixton stations handle thirty-six trains tph with just two platforms.
  • The track layout at Shenfield can accommodate through trains.

Passenger access to the platforms is probably more of a limiting factor, than the track and platforms.

Timings

Currently, Class 315 trains are scheduled to go between Stratford and Shenfield in thirty-six minutes, with faster Longer distance services doing the trip non-stop in fifteen minutes.

  • Crossrail is claiming on their web site, that the Class 345 trains will do the trip in thirty-two minutes or four minutes less.
  • But there are eleven station between Stratford and Shenfield. So that is a saving of only around twenty-two seconds a station.

I feel Crossrail is playing their timings very safe.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The current proposal of twelve tph to Shenfield will be increased to something like fifteen or twenty tph.
  • Crossrail timings between Stratford and Shenfield will approach the current fastest time of fifteen minutes between the two stations.
  • Fast services to and from North of Chelmsford will stop at Shenfield to enable faster and easier journeys.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Beaulieu and Southend Victoria.
  • Shenfield will become a major rail interchange.

The East of England will see major changes to its rail network.

Crossrail’s Abbey Wood Branch

The Branch to Abbey Wood station has the following characteristics.

  • It is a tunnelled double-track railway between Whitechapel and Abbey Wood stations.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • All trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially twelve tph will serve the branch

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Abbey Wood Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of twelve tph to Abbey Wood will be increased to something like fifteen or twenty tph.
  • Services on the Abbey Wood Branch will continue to match those on the Shenfield Branch, as this makes journeys between the two Eastern branches easier.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • Abbey Wood will become a major rail interchange.

South East London and Kent will see major changes to its rail network.

Summing Up The Two Eastern Branches

The two Eastern Branches can probably provide as many as twenty-four tph for Crossrail.

As the maximum frequency through the Central Section is probably in the thirties, they can allocate services according to where the traffic lies.

It would also appear that as the two services will use the same platforms at Whitechapel station and trains will be every few minutes, that Crossrail is designed to make journeys between say Ilford and Abbey Wood much quicker than by car.

Crossrail’s Reading Branch

The Branch  to Reading station has the following characteristics.

  • It is a semi-separated double-track railway between Paddington and Reading.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • Other services may share the tracks.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially six tph will serve the branch; four to Reading and two to Maidenhead.

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Reading Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph,

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of six tph to Reading and Maidenhead will be increased increased.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Basingstoke and Oxford.
  • Reading will become an even more major rail interchange.

West London and Berkshire will see major changes to its rail network.

Crossrail’s Heathrow Branch

The Branch to Heathrow has the following characteristics.

  • It is a fully-separated double-track railway between Airport Junction and Heathrow.
  • All stations are step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • Other services may share the tracks.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially six tph will serve the branch.

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Heathrow Branch could handle in excess of twelve tph.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of six tph to Heathrow is increased.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations beyond Terminal 5.
  • Heathrow Express will fade away.

Heathrow will see major changes to its rail network.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Paddington

These services will call at Paddington from the East.

  • 12 tph from Abbey Wood
  • 12 tph from Shenfield

And these from the West

6 tph from Heathrow

2 tph from Maidenhead

4 tph from Reading

This gives an imbalance, so twelve tph will have to be turned back to the East at Paddington.

Crossrail Services

The provisional service pattern is shown in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail under Services.

It effectively shows the following services, with times are from Crossrail’s provisional journey time calculator.

  • 4 tph – Reading to Abbey Wood – 80/78 minutes
  • 2 tph – Maidenhead to Abbey Wood – 67/66 minutes
  • 4 tph – Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood – 60/60 minutes
  • 2 tph – Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood – 60/60 minutes (assumed same as previous)
  • 12 tph – Paddington to Shenfield – 51/51 minutes

It should also be noted that Paddington to Abbey Wood is 29/28 minutes.

Note.

  1. The first figure is for the West to East journey.
  2. The second figure is for the East to West journey.
  3. There isn’t much difference between West to East and East to West journeys.

This leads me to give these numbers for the trains on each route.

  • Reading to Abbey Wood – 12 trains
  • Maidenhead to Abbey Wood – 5 trains
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood – 10 trains
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood – 5 trains
  • Paddington to Shenfield – 24 trains

This totals up to 56 trains.

Note.

  1. My numbers of trains figures, are very rough and are minimum numbers.
  2. Provisionally, Crossrail will also be running 4 tph between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park in the Peak, which could need four trains.
  3. Crossrail have ordered 70 trains.
  4. Some trains will be in maintenance and others will be held in reserve.

Crossrail seem to have ordered a sensible number of trains for the initial services.

Ceossrail Extension To Gravesend

It would appear that a typical Abbey Wood to Gravesend service takes just under half an hour.

This is with slower twenty-five year old Class 465 trains, so extending services to Gravesend would just add an hour to the round trip.

This would make train timetabling easy.

If the Heathrow Terminal 4 service to Abbey Wood was extended to Gravesend, it would require another two trains.

In addition.

  • The Class 345 trains have been designed to run on 750 VDC third-rail electrification, with the addition of third-rail shoes.
  • I think that the new track layout at Abbey Wood station could cope with four tph running to Gravesend using the North Kent Line.
  • A single platform at Gravesend could turn back four tph.

It does look that to choose Gravesend as an extension for Crossrail could be a very good decision.

The New South Eastern Franchise

This will be a key factor in extending Crossrail to Gravesend and I suspect all bidders will give co-operation with Crossrail, a high priority.

I suspect a new franchise will replace a large proportion of the train fleet with new 100 mph traqins and that the Class 465 trains will be retired.

The new franchise is due to start in December 2018.

When Could A Crossrail Service To Gravesend Start?

I believe that the following infrastructure is ready for a four tph Crossrail service to Gravesend.

  • The link between Crossrail and the North Kent Line at Abbey Wood station.
  • Platform 0 at Gravesend is a twelve-car London-facing bay platform, that could handle the trains.
  • Dartford, Gravesend, Greenhithe stations are step-free.

However, certain things must happen before a Crossrail service to Gravesend could start.

  • The new Southeastern franchise must be up and running.
  • ERTMS must be installed along the North Kent Line.
  • All trains running along the North Kent Line must be 100 mph trains, able to take advantage of modern signalling.
  • All stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend must be made step-free.

The new franchise will probably have its new service pattern and modern trains in place by the end of 2023, which would probably make the Crossrail extension easier.

Before a decision is made on the extension, Crossrail needs a couple of years to find out how passengers use the new line and the other services, which will include Thameslink, that call at Abbey Wood station.

Can Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

Before answering the question, the related question of whether it is possible should be answered.

Extending Trains From Paddington

Current proposals envisage twelve trains turning back at Paddington.

It would not be difficult if a number of these trains continued to Old Oak Common station.

Can Paddington To Old Oak Common Handle The Extra Trains?

The current proposals envisage just twelve tph using the route between Paddington and Old Oak Common station, with perhaps a few wxtra trains going to and from Old Oak Common Depot.

As the tunnelled section of Crossrail can handle double that frequency, I suspect there will be no problems extending extra trains to Old Oak Common station.

It would appear that there would be no problems extending services to Old Oak Common station.

Where Would The Extra Services Go?

The choices lie between the Chiltern Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

If we take Crossrail’s well-thought out choice of Gravessend, I think we need a destination, that is ideally just under thirty minutes from Old Oak Common station.

In the next few sub-sections, I’ll look at possibilities.

Extending To High Wycombe On The Chiltern Main Line

A service between High Wycombe and Wembley Stadium stations takes 27 minutes with stops at Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross and South Ruislip stations. Taking the Acton-Northolt Line and even with stopping at Seer Green and Jordans, Denham Golf Club, Denham, West Ruislip and Greenford, I’m pretty sure, that a train could go from Old Oak Common to High Wycombe and back in comfortably under an hour.

Four tph between High Wycombe and Shenfield would require twelve trains, which is four more than would be needed for the same service between Paddington and Shenfield.

Consider.

  • Four tph could easily be turned back in a single platform at High Wycombe station.
  • High Wycombe station has plenty of space.
  • However, it would need the route between Old Oak Common and High Wycombe to be electrified.
  • But, it is a long-term aim of Chiltern Railways to electrify the Chiltern Main Line.

I believe that High Wycombe station could be a viable terminal for Crossrail.

Extending To Milton Keynes Central On The West Coast Main Line

A service between Milton Keynes Central and Wembley Central stations takes 51 minutes with seven stops.

This would mean that a train could go from Shenfield to Milton Keynes Central in comfortably under two hours.

Four tph between Milton Keyns Central and Shenfield would require sixteen trains, which is eight more than would be needed for the same service between Paddington and Shenfield.

Consider.

  • Four tph could easily be turned back in a single platform at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • Milton Keynes Central station  has space for a terminal platform.
  • Except for creating the connection at Old Oak Common and updating stations to full step-free access, the infrastructure is pretty good.
  • Crossrail would be linked to the East-West Rail Link.

I believe that Milton Keynes Central station could be a viable terminal for Crossrail.

Should Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

It is certainly possible to extend to either High Wycombe or Milton Keynes Central.

If a decision were to be made to extend Crossrail, passenger statistics would probably decide, which would be the extra terminal or terminals.

 

 

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Abbey Wood Station – 30th July 2017

I took these pictures at Abbey Wood staeion.

Note my other post about Abbey Wood station called Construction Of The Platform Structures And Tracks For Crossrail At Abbey Wood Was Cimpleted By Network Rail In May 2017, which was based on a picture caption in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Does this also include the electrification?

It now appears that West of the station, the electrification runs all the way to the tunnel entrance. But the electrification is treated differently in the two Crossrail platforms.

  • In Platform 3, which traditionally would be the London-bound platform, the wires go under the station bridge and finish on a single vertical gantry. Conveniently, it’s shown in the last picture in the gallery.
  • In Platform 4, which is the Northernmost platform, the wires are fixed to the station building. This is shown in the penultimate picture in the gallery.

So it would appear, that Crossrail trains can only go East of the station under electric power  only using the track through Platform 3.

I couldn’t see if there was any connection between the track through Platform 4 and that through Platform 3, but there was also some supports for the old bridge in the way.

There would need to be a connection, if the track to the East of the station was to be used as a reversing siding.

What is now clear is that the station must be one of the few stations with three footbridges.

  • There is the main one at the East containing the main station building, which probably has lifts.
  • One in the middle of the platforms, which looks like it might have lifts.
  • There is a smaller footbridge at the Western end of the station.

According to this page on the Crossrail web site the station has a total of six lifts.

I suspect the number of lifts is because the site and the track layout, mean that it has not been possible to organise cross-platform interchange bettween Crossrail and the North Kent Line.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Abbey Wood Station

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

This is said.

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

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

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

In this post, I will talk about issues at Abbey Wood station.

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

Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

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

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

Note the following.

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

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017 and show pictures generally taken from the West of the station.

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

Note.

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

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

These pictures were taken on the 10th July 2017 to the East of the station.

Note that the first seven pictures were taken from a public footbridge that crosses the tracks about five hundred metres to the East of Abbey Wood station and the last few pictures were taken from a train leaving Abbey Wood station for Dartford station.

This recent Google Map shoews from Abbey Wood station, to where the reversing siding ends close to where Aliske Road turns North

The pictures and the map show the following.

  • The two third-rail electrified tracks of the North Kent Line run between Platforms 1 and 2 at Abbey Wood station to Belvedere station.
  • The North Kent tracks are fully in use, by services between London and Kent.
  • The two Crossrail Platforms 3 and 4 at Abbey Wood station are electrified with overhead wires.
  • The two tracks in Platforms 3 and 4 would appear to join together into a single line mainly without electrification, that connects to the North Kent Line about a kilometre to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • There is only a short length of electrification to the East of the station.

It is not what I expected, as it means that there is no cross-platform interchange between services going to North Kent and Crossrail, as various sources including the The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article have said.

Passengers changing between the North Kent Lines and Crossrail will have to go over through the station or use the bridge.

So how will the station handle the various train movements?

Comparison Between Abbey Wood and Shenfield Stations

Abbey Wood will after rebuilding be a station with two North Kent and two Crossrail platforms

Shenfield station has now been converted into a station with six platforms, three of which can be used as Crossrail platforms.

In the Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 10 trains per hour (tph)
  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph

In addition 4 tph on the Shenfield Branch turn-back at Gidea Park station.

In the Off Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph

So it would appear that Abbey Wood is the harder station to operate with more services in the Peak and one less platform.

Train Stabling At Abbey Wood Station

Train stabling needs to be provided on a busy branch line, as it makes it easier to adjust the number of trains running to the demand throughout the day.

At Shenfield, the stabling sidings are beyond the station, which must be easier operationally, than the position of the sidings at Abbey Wood, where they are back down the line at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

If you look at the second set of pictures taken to the East of the station, spaqce would appear to be very limited. So is this why stabling is not ast of Abbey Wood station.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Abbey Wood

At Shenfield, train operators have been turning back Class 315 trains at a rate of six tph since 1980, so with the addition of a new platform and modern trains and signalling, the handling of ten tph should be achievable.

But at Abbey Wood in the Peak, there is a need to turn trains round at a rate of twelve tph or a train every five minutes.

The operation could involve each of Platform 3 and 4 handling six tph, using the cross-overs to the West of the station to get the train between each platform and the right Crossrail track, but handling six tph on two platforms feeding a 12 tph double track railway is a tough ask.

From what I have seen, I think that Crossrail will turnback their trains like this.

  • All Crossrail trains from London arrive in Platform 4.
  • All Crossrail trains to London depart from Platform 3.
  • All trains arriving in Platform 4 use the unelectrified single track line as a reversing siding to get to Platform 3
  • As the pictures show, the single track line is probably long enough to store a failed train, for later recovery.

But the Class 345 trains have a system called Auto-Reverse.

When the train is ready to leave Platform 4,the driver initiates an Auto-Reverse and the train moves automatically into the reversing siding, whilst the driver starts to walk back through the train to the other cab.

  • By the time, the train is in the reversing siding, the driver is ready to drive the train into Platform 3.
  • The process will have to be done within five minutes.
  • The process could also involve the basic cleaning and removal of rubbish, with cleaners getting on at Platform 4 and getting off at Plstform 3.

Crossrail is not your bog-standard railway.

Trains Leaving Service At Abbey Wood

Suppose a train was leaving service at Abbey Wood.

Normally, it would probably perform the Auto-Reverse and go to the stabling sidings at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

It might even go the wrong way directly out of Platform 4, if the signalling was bi-directiomal.

Remember too, that Class 345 trains could be two independent half-trains, so if one half fails, the other could be designed to get the train to safety and out of the way.

Class 345 trains are not a bog-standard trains.

Running Crossrail Trains To And From Gravesend

From what I have seen, I’m convinced that the track layout at Abbey Wood station, means that Crossrail can be easily extended to and from Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester, Gillingham or Rainham.

Let’s assume the terminal for four tph is Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from London to Gravesend will do the following.

  • Stop in Platform 4 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Lower the pantograph
  • Take the single uon-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line.
  • Cross over to the Down North Kent Line.
  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel to Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from Gravesend to London will do the following.

  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel from Gravesend.
  • Cross over to the single non-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line before Abbey Wood station.
  • Stop in Platform 3 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Raise the pantograph.

The Crossrail trains would be needed to be fitted with third-rail shoes.

Interchange BetweenThe Extended Crossrail And Other Services.

Suppose you are going from Ramsgate to Paddington, you would get a Highspeed service to Gravesend and then wait for a Crossrail train to call at the same platform.

To repeat myself, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

Crossrail’s Trump Card

When the trains turnback at Abbey Wood or extend to and from Gravesend, the Class 345 trains will have to use the non-electrified single track line shown in the pictures.

It may be electrified in the next year! But why bother?

The distances that need to be handled without power are not much more than a kilometre at slow speed.

The Class 345 trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

These batteries will also do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide emergency power, in the event of complete tunnel power failure.

Conclusion

To repeat myself again, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

See Also

These are related posts.

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

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 19 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

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lines Between Ebbsfleet International And Northfleet Stations

Lines Between Ebbsfleet International And Northfleet Stations

Consider these points about the map.

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

Consider these general points.

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

Consider these about Gravesend station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Related Posts

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Along The North Kent Line

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

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

Along The North Kent Line

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

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

Woolwich Arsenal

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

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

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

Abbey Wood

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

Wikipedia says this about Crossrail services at Abbey Wood station.

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

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

I doubt it will happen in the next ten years.

Dartford

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

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

Greenhithe

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

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

Northfleet

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

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

Smaller Stations

There are several smaller stations between London Bridge and Gravesend.

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

Gravesend

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

Crossrail to Gravesend

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

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

At present, Gravesend station has the following services.

Typical off-peak services are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With this Off Peak service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps, the only major expenses would be.

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

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

Class 395 Trains

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

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

Strood

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

Rochester

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

Chatham

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

Gillingham

Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

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

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

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

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

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

Rainham

Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

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

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

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

These improvements are noted.

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

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

Thameslink To Rainham

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

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

Onward From Rainham

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

Conclusions

Everything seems to fit together rather well.

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

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

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

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

It is usually solved by adding more capacity.

Related Posts

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

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