Further funding has been provided by the government to investigate options for extending the future Elizabeth line out towards Ebbsfleet in Kent. The planned extension was called for by an investigation into the future economic growth of the Thames Estuary region.
In June 2018, the Commission reported their findings and set out a vision that, by 2050, envisages the Estuary potentially creating 1.3 million new jobs, driving £190 billion additional gross value added and accommodating at least 1 million new homes.
In a written ministerial statement, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire confirmed £4.85 million in funding as part of the Government’s response to the Commission.
That is rather less than the £20 million that the Commission had asked for though.
The extra money now being provided will enable detailed feasibility, funding and viability work to take place on the scheme.
The early plans for Crossrail had included running the line out towards Gravesend, but this was cut back in the 1990s, and a review in 2004 recommended stopping at Abbey Wood. When Crossrail got approval in 2008, 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.
The funding agreement from the government is however only for the “development of low-cost proposals, subject to suitable housing ambition.”
They also warned that any decision on future transport enhancements would be subject to consideration of a business case and would require a detailed evidence base that demonstrates that the scheme would be both technically feasible, offer value for money (including the identification of funding) and deliver ambitious new housing in the area.
In the latest transport strategy, the Mayor of London supported the Elizabeth line extension in principle, but noted that London wouldn’t be providing any additional funding for it.