A suggested extension of the Elizabeth line deep into Kent could hinge on the opening of a large leisure park at Swanscome. The London Resort Theme Park is a proposed £3.5 billion project that’s currently working its way through consultations and planning with an intention to start construction in 2022.
A newly published rail consultation by Kent County Council touches on the issue of an extension of Crossrail into the county and suggests that enhanced rail links from Swanscombe would be essential to the theme park’s success. Although it’s relatively close to Ebbsfleet International station for HS2, and Northfleet/Swanscome stations for local services, there are concerns that better connections through South-East London would still be needed.
The Kent council consultation states that the theme park developer will be asked to “provide a substantial contribution towards the public transport infrastructure needed, supporting an extension of the Elizabeth line from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet.”
At the moment, the Elizabeth line terminates at Abbey Wood station, but there are long-standing desires by local councils to see it extended, and the route would likely take it through Swanscombe to Gravesend.
The difficulty is that the extension is totally unfunded, and that extending the line through Abbey Wood is problematic due to the design of the station – which limits how many Elizabeth line trains per hour could fit through to the tracks on the far side.
Crossrail and TfL are also themselves rather busy trying to get the existing line up and running, and far from thinking about adding extensions.
The Kent consultation itself accepts that any proposal for an extended Elizabeth line, or alternative rail upgrade is unlikely to be delivered before the mid-2030s at the earliest.