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.

Elizabeth line map with Ebbsfleet extension

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.

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19 comments
  1. Al says:

    Somewhat related to Crossrail, yet would there be any benefit for it (or another line) to take over the currently limited service on the C2C route from Stratford to Grays via Forest Gate Junction?

  2. PeterC says:

    I’m struggling to see the advantage (except for local travellers going 2 or 3 stops say) of extending Crossrail this far – and the same applies to Reading. The raison d’etre of Crossrail was to save travellers time but it is surely quicker to get a fast train from Reading and, even allowing transfer time, pick up Crossrail at Paddington? Same for Ebbsfleet to Abbey Wood. Or am I missing something?

    • Phil says:

      Re Crossrail to Reading – its a simply a way of TfL grabbing extra revenue. No sane London commuter is going to put up with toiletless overgrown tube trains when they have far superior (in terms of on board facilities) GWR trains that get them to Paddington in half the time (for the same ticket price) even if it does mean changing trains to get further into central London.

      Yes sending the Elizabeth line to Reading avoids the need for a shuttle service between Maidenhead and Reading – but from an operational point of view a shuttle would actually make life much easier for NR because a Cross Country Voyager unit and a single 387 unit can easily share a single platform at Reading while a Crossrail train is too long and blocks a whole platform – reducing station capacity / throughput all the time it is sat there. Meanwhile at Maidenhead a 387 can platform share with the short Marlow branch trains.

      (Note while the rebuilding of Reading station provided more platforms – it didn’t actually provide any more tracks! This is because said extra platforms were actually created by effectively linking up the bay platforms at either end of the station and building platforms on the freight by-pass tracks previously used by stone trains to avoid getting in the way of passenger operations).

      Extending the Elizabeth line to Ebbsfleet (which is outside the GLA area and where fares will have to be aligned to what SE charges) is therefore attractive because it means a big revenue boost – plus of course Ebbslfeet is supposed to become a massive ‘Garden City’ type of development generating lots of new users paying said high fares.

      The problem is unlike the GWML to Reading, large amounts of money need to be spent upgrading the existing route beyond Abbey Wood (4 tracking up to Dartford and 2 new platforms there at a minimum) with the added complication of half the works taking place in the county of Kent.

      Hence TfLs stance regarding funding…..

    • Mark Norrington says:

      When options for Crossrail were being considered in the 1990s one option to run via Forest Gate Junction on to the LTS was in the mix. The problems were two fold, firstly in the peaks you need all trains serving the Shenfield line so you could on,y serve the LTS off peak in what would have been a very unattractive service offer. Plus down trains crossing on the flat at FGJ added another performance risk.

  3. lmm says:

    @Al No. Crossrail very much wants to avoid mixing its services with other lines, as that would mean delays on those lines would spread to delays in the Crossrail core where timing is very tight. And really the same logic applies to any other lines, although it would be less critical for less intense services.

    Honestly the scheduled services on that line are mainly just for driver training to make it possible to divert services when there are works at Fenchurch Street. Any spare capacity at Liverpool Street or Stratford would be better used to enhance services to the main destinations they serve. Interlaced services from everywhere to everywhere else is one of those ideas that seems useful, but it turns out to be more practical to run intense services on a smaller number of segregated routes.

  4. Going two or three stops may be part of the point. Or just avoiding transfers. They might also not want to rely on the mainline SouthEastern metro services, which stop at many stations (including my own) on the way into and out of London, and can easily be delayed for any number of reasons.

    Ultimately as stated in the OP, the goal is to encourage housing development. Lewisham has a bunch of flats, Abbey Wood is going to go that way, and it all brings in council revenue, which they desperately need now.

    Of course if we sink into a recession or a depression, all bets will be off for a long time.

  5. RICHARD CLARK says:

    Yes there are no train lines from Ebbsfleet to Abbey Wood and poor public transport from all the new housing in the Ebbsfleet area to anywher

  6. Mary Hinge says:

    There they go again.. spending money on London, which is about 40% people that aren’t even British and haven’t been paying tax here long. Money like this could be used in the north, where about 15 million people live..

    • ianvisits says:

      Setting aside the racist rant, the extension will be funded by local housing developers, local taxpayers and local farepayers — in no way would this development reduce the amount of money available to be spent “in the north”, on the contrary as the economic uplift for the area means more central government income, to spend across the entire UK.

      Rather than complaining, you should be welcoming it — more money for the north and paid for by the south.

    • Peter Cope says:

      Mary, perhaps we should not be bickering amongst ourselves. Surely there is need – and merit – for projects in the South and the North. It’s not so much as case of ‘my region is more deserving that yours’ but that they are *both* in need of investment. And (someone correct me if I am wrong) much of London’s rail infrastructure is funded by local surcharges? Sorry if that’s wrong I’ve lived too long in the provinces…

  7. WAGN says:

    Glad you picked up on the “low-cost proposals” line. Reading Brokenshire’s statement closely, it is clear the Elizabeth line extension is an ex-scheme pining for the fjords. The statement doesn’t even mention the Elizabeth line, and the attached formal response to the commission makes it clear they want to just complete the original scheme then investigate low-cost proposals (which an Elizabeth line extension never could be).

  8. Jacob lederman says:

    Shame Liverpool Street isn’t on the Northern line 🙂

    • David W says:

      The crossrail station at Liverpool Street is halfway between Liverpool street and Moorgate, which is on the northern line. So you will be able to get off a Northern line at Moortgate and get on a Crossrail train (Note it will be a bit of a walk)

      FYI I am building the station so I can say this with 100% certainty, it is shown on the new tube maps with Crossrail on it.

  9. Ben says:

    Seems strange to terminate at Ebbsfleet, which is well provided with transport infrastructure than serve Ebbsfleet via Northfleet and go to Gravesend, both much more deprived areas that would benefit from Crossrail connectivity. In addition, this allows trains to turn back at Hoo Junction.

    • A Bishop says:

      I agree. There is no justification for Crossrail to stop short of Gravesend. Utterly stupid and would deny one of Kent’s largest town’s with a direct service. I concur with you regarding deprivation in that part of North Kent. What is astonishing is that a government quango (EDC) are not setting out a positive statement, about Crossrail using a rebuilt Northfleet station – call it ‘Ebbsfleet Crossrail’ if you prefer and having the route terminate at Gravesend or just to the east of it. Let’s be clear, it is not Crossrail’s idea to only go as far as Ebbsfleet, it is the government quango, Dartford Council and bizarrely Gravesham Council – where the latter has had all the leadership qualities of Theresa May, in regards to this issue – you know, they believe getting Crossrail to Ebbsfleet somehow helps Gravesend – it doesn’t at all. It just makes travelling by Crossrail (indirectly) if you are from Gravesend, pretty much pointless and time consuming.

    • Kevin says:

      The clue’s in the editorial. They don’t care about the problems of existing people and businesses, they only want to encourage more housing.

  10. Andrew Skinner says:

    Should extend it to Southend as well. Link it up with the expanding Southend Airport.

  11. James Miller says:

    If you live in Dalston and use Liverpool Street station often, as I do, the underground link between Moorgate station and Liverpool Street will really be important.

    In some ways, it’s a pity that Broad Street was closed, as it was a useful way to get to the City.

    I used it a couple of times around 1980 to get between Ipswich and Stonebridge Park to get to our London offices, with a change to the Bakerloo at Willesden.

    It was a grim, dark station in its last years.

  12. Gabriel says:

    There will be residential and business growth in Gravesend, as the district currently needs to find excess of 16000 homes, over the short/medium term. It is inconceivable that a Crossrail extension, would not substitute the current metro services at Stone Crossing and a substantial reduction of metro services at Greenhithe and Swanscombe.
    Cracking the natural rail transport corridor between Dartford and Gravesend, for the first time since 1849, is nonsensical at best.
    Further, the proposed Ebbsfleet Crossrail station, would now be sited on the defunct coach station.
    That was the old Land Securities suggested location/idea, which was rightly binned a few years ago. It seems that the EDC quango wanted it back, in preference to Crossrail’s own original plan to have a station adjacent to Northfleet station and their later preference for Gravesend and Hoo Junction. So the current scheme will prevent Crossrail getting to Gravesend 2 miles away and potentially to the fast growing Medway.
    The idea that thousands of passengers daily, will convey to Ebbsfleet by Crossrail, in order to use a Eurostar service, is simply preposterous.
    But that is what is being spun as the justification for the extension to Ebbsfleet and creating an unnecessary railhead in what is clearly the wrong location.

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