The Anonymous Widower

Councils Back Cheaper Crossrail Extension Option To Kent

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

These two paragraphs describe the preferred scheme.

The council’s opted for the cheaper extension option which would see Crossrail extended from Abbey Wood east to Slade Green, Dartford, Greenhithe and Swancombe before stopping near to HS1 station at Ebbsfleet with a stop at Northfleet.

The report notes: “The preferred scheme is one that would see 8 of the 12 Elizabeth Line trains per hour that are currently planned to terminate at Abbey Wood be extended eastwards, sharing the existing North Kent line tracks with the Southeastern and Thameslink services.

Currently, the following services use the proposed route between Abbey Wood and Northfleet.

  • Southeastern – two tph – London Cannon Street and London Cannon Street via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Southeastern – two tph – London Cannon Street and Dartford via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Southeastern – two tph – London Charing Cross and Gravesend via Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • Thameslink – two tph – Luton and Rainham via Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

Note that tph is trains per hour.

These services provide these frequencies at the stations between Abbey Wood and Northfleet.

  • Abbey Wood – eighteen tph, which assumes twelve tph from Crossrail.
  • Belvedere – four tph
  • Erith – four tph
  • Slade Green – six tph
  • Dartford – four tph
  • Stone Crossing – four tph
  • Greenhithe – four tph
  • Swanscombe – four tph
  • Northfleet – four tph

Note twelve tph from Crossrail terminate at Abbey Wood.

If Crossrail were to run eight tph to Northfleet, this would provide these frequencies at the stations.

  • Abbey Wood – eighteen tph, which assumes twelve tph from Crossrail.
  • Belvedere – twelve tph
  • Erith – twelve tph
  • Slade Green – fourteen tph
  • Dartford – twelve tph
  • Stone Crossing – twelve tph
  • Greenhithe – twelve tph
  • Swanscombe – twelve tph
  • Northfleet – twelve tph

Note four tph from Crossrail terminate at Abbey Wood and eight tph at Northfleet.

These are my thoughts.

A Turnback Facility At Northfleet Station

There will need to be a turnback facility at Northfleet station.

  • It will have to handle eight tph
  • Nine-car Class 345 trains used by Crossrail are 205 metres long.

Eight tph would suggest that two platforms would be needed.

This Google Map shows Northfleet station.

Note.

  1. The North Kent Line goes diagonally across the map from North-West to South-East.
  2. Northfleet station is a two-platform station.
  3. To the South of the station, there are sidings, which are connected to the North Kent Line.

This picture shows the sidings from Northfleet station, with Ebbsfleet station about a mile away.

It appears that there would be space to add two well-appointed turnback platforms at Northfleet station.

These pictures show some of the features of the current Northfleet station.

Rebuilding to add the turnback facility, could also include.

  • Full step-free access
  • Modern station buildings
  • A deep clean of the pedestrian tunnel.
  • An appropriately-sized bus station, with a zero-carbon shuttle bus to Ebbsfleet station.
  • Future provision for a high-tech people-mover to Ebbsfleet station.

It is not one of the better stations on the Southeastern network.

But it certainly could be!

I very much feel that Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with at least two extra platforms.

A People-Mover Between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet Stations

I wrote So Near And Yet So Far! about the poor connection between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

It is a design crime of the highest order.

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?

It sounds like it was a Treasury design for Civil Servants, who work in Westminster and wouldn’t dream of living in Gravesend.

How much did omitting the link save?

Probably in the the long term, about two-fifths of five eighths of f***-all!

The specialists in this type of people-mover are the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, who in the UK have built the Emirates Air Line and the Air-Rail Link at Birmingham Airport. Currently, they are building the Luton DART people mover.

Wikipedia says that the Emirates Air-Line cost £60 million.

Wouldn’t something similar be an ideal way to welcome people to the UK?

The London Resort

The London Resort, is described like this in its Wikipedia entry.

The London Resort is a proposed theme park and resort in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012 and, if given planning permission, it is estimated that construction will begin in 2022, with a first gate opening in summer 2024 and a second gate by 2029.

It certainly sounds the sort of place I avoid, but just like Disneyland Paris, I feel the developers will want a rail connection.

They could even want to have another people-mover from Ebbsfleet station.

 

 

November 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Proposals For Crossrail Elizabeth Line Extension To Ebbsfleet Cut Down To Three Options

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Kent Online.

So what are the three options?

Crossrail To Northfleet/Ebbsfleet And Gravesend

The first option provides for an extension of Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend, sharing the existing tracks with National Rail services.

  • Of the 12 trains per hour (tph) that are planned to run to Abbey Wood. four tph will terminate at each of Abbey Wood, Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • A single platform at Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend would be capable of handling the required four tph.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.
  • It looks like some form of people-mover will be needed between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Gravesend station could either turn the trains directly or have a turnback facility to the East of the station at Hoo, where provision has been made for train stabling.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.

This option would be feasible and would require just a new platform at Northfleet station, the people-mover and perhaps some work at Gravesend station.

Crossrail To Dartford And Northfleet/Ebbsfleet

The second option is to draw out Crossrail from south east London to Dartford using new dedicated tracks built next to the existing North Kent line, with increased rail service frequency between Dartford and Northfleet.

  • All the 12 tph, that currently are planned to run ro Abbey Wood, all will terminate at Dartford station.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • It looks like some form of people-mover will be needed between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.

This option would be feasible and would require a new platform at Northfleet station, the people-mover and a lot of work between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations and at Dartford station.

A Lower Cost Option With Buses

A third option consists of improving the National Rail service between Abbey Wood and Northfleet, combined with a new Bus Rapid Transit service.

  • It appears Crossrail services would stay the same at Abbey Wood, with all twelve tph terminating at the station, as are currently planned.
  • Southeastern services to Dartford via Abbey Wood would be extended to Northfleet. This would increase the number of Southeastern trains to/from London serving stations between Northfleet and Dartford for connection to Crossrail at Abbey Wood from four to eight tph.
  • There would need to be turnback facilities at Northfleet station for the Southeastern services.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.
  • A Bus Rapid Transit service would be provided between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet stations via Slade Green, Dartford and Bluewater.
  • A Bus Rapid Transit service would be provided between Slade Green and Ebbsfleet via Greenhithe and Northfleet.
  • Both Bus Rapid Transit services would have a frequency of six buses per hour.

This option looks to be feasible and would only require a new platform at Northfleet station.

The Views Of New Civil Engineer

This article on New Civil Engineer gives its views on the three options.

It says this of the first option.

This option would require the construction of some sections of additional track and junction works within the existing rail corridor, significant works at Abbey Wood, Slade Green and Dartford stations and require additional land to accommodate additional train stabling facilities.

And this of the second option.

This option would require significant construction work to build a new two track rail alignment alongside the existing North Kent line, requiring potential compulsory purchase of land and property beyond the existing rail corridor in some areas and significant works at Abbey Wood, Slade Green and Dartford stations, as well as the provision of new train stabling facilities.

It doesn’t comment about the third option, which I take to mean, that all work for the trains can be done within the existing rail corridor.

Components Of The Options

Although the options are different there are some components that appear in more than one option.

Improved Digital Signalling

The number of trains running to the East of Abbey Wood station, will surely  increase under all three options and I feel it is essential, that  modern digital signalling be installed on the North Kent Lines.

More Train Stabling

Commenting on the first two options, New Civil Engineer says that more stabling will be needed.

In the Gibb Report, Chris Gibb looked at stabling problems with Thameslink and found there was a problem along the North Kent Line. I wrote about it in Gibb Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

I feel that a review of all train stabling in Kent should be performed, so that there is enough space to service and stable the trains of the various operators.

When Crossrail was originally planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend and Hoo Junction was put forward as somewhere to stable trains.

A Turnback Platform At Northfleet Station

All three options need a turnback platform at Northfleet station.

  • In Option 1 it will be handling Crossrail trains.
  • In Options 2 and 3, it will be handling Southeastern trains.
  • It probably needs to handle four tph.
  • Nine-car Class 345 trains used by Crossrail are 205 metres long.
  • Twelve-car Class 377 trains used by Southeastern are 240 metres long.

This Google Map shows Northfleet station.

Note.

  1. The North Kent Line goes diagonally across the map from North-West to South-East.
  2. Northfleet station is a two-platform station.
  3. To the South of the station, there are sidings, which are connected to the North Kent Line.

 

This picture shows the sidings from Northfleet station, with Ebbsfleet station about a mile away.

It appears that there would be space to add a well-appointed turnback platform at Northfleet station.

These pictures show some of the features of the current Northfleet station.

Rebuilding to add the turnback platform, could also include.

  • Full step-free access
  • Modern station buildings
  • A deep clean of the pedestrian tunnel.
  • An appropriately-sized bus station, with a zero-carbon shuttle bus to Ebbsfleet station.
  • Future provision for a high-tech people-mover to Ebbsfleet station.

It is not one of the better stations on the Southeastern network.

But it certainly could be!

I very much feel that Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with an extra platform.

A People-Mover Between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet Stations

I wrote So Near And Yet So Far! about the poor connection between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

It is a design crime of the highest order.

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?

It sounds like it was a Treasury design for Civil Servants, who work in Westminster and wouldn’t dream of living in Gravesend.

How much did omitting the link save?

Probably in the the long term, about two-fifths of five eighths of f***-all!

The specialists in this type of people-mover are the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, who in the UK have built the Emirates Air Line and the Air-Rail Link at Birmingham Airport. Currently, they are building the Luton DART people mover.

Wikipedia says that the Emirates Air-Line cost £60million.

Wouldn’t something similar be an ideal way to welcome people to the UK?

The London Resort

The London Resort, is described like this in its Wikipedia entry.

The London Resort is a proposed theme park and resort in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012 and, if given planning permission, it is estimated that construction will begin in 2022, with a first gate opening in summer 2024 and a second gate by 2029.

It certainly sounds the sort of place I avoid, but just like Disneyland Paris, I feel the developers will want a rail connection.

They could even want to have another people-mover from Ebbsfleet station.

A Connection To The Bluewater Shopping Centre

The Bluewater Shopping Centre is not easy to get to by public transport and requires a bus from Greenhithe for Bluewater station.

Only Option 3 offered an improvement with a bus between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet stations via Slade Green, Dartford and Bluewater, that would run every ten minutes.

Conclusion

It seems that whatever option is eventually chosen, certain works will need to be performed as they are needed for all options.

  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo junction would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.
  • A review of train stabling in Kent should be carried out, to make sure there are enough places to service and stable the trains needed, by all the operators/
  • Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with an extra turnback platform for at least four tph.
  • Provision should be made for a possible people-mover between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

The North Kent Line to the East of Abbey Wood station would now be ready for whichever option is chosen.

Because of the London Resort, which has still not been given a definite go-ahead we could see some changes and other options or even some that combine more than one option.

August 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Consultation Opens On Extending The Elizabeth Line Into Kent

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

This is the introduction to Ian’s post.

A consultation has opened on proposals for improving public transport services connecting Ebbsfleet, Dartford, Slade Green, Erith and Belvedere with Abbey Wood.

The consultation is being run by the C2E Partnership, which was formed in 2016 to promote extending the Elizabeth line into Kent, although the new consultation does look at alternatives to the Lizzie line as well.

The early plans for Crossrail included running the line out towards Gravesend, but this was cut back in the 1990s, and in 2008 when Crossrail got approval, it was difficult to support the extended line. However, some passive provision was included in the station design at Abbey Wood to permit an extension to be added on later.

There are five options being looked at by the C2E Partnership.

Three of them are extensions of the Elizabeth line, one is improved services from Kent to Abbey Wood, and the final is a Rapid Bus Transit service.

There are maps of the various options.

At the moment, I doubt there is much that will happen, with low levels of commuting due to the pandemic and a near-bankrupt Transport for London.

January 28, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

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/Travel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

So Near And Yet So Far!

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

Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

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

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

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

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

I took these pictures as I walked.

I am left with the following conclusions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If they did, it is downright incompetence.

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

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

December 7, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments