Another consultation has opened to look at plans to extend the Elizabeth line beyond Abbey Wood into Kent.

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 “very passive” provision was included in the station design at Abbey Wood to permit an extension to be added on later. The downside is that there’s really only enough space for one track to pass through, as does already, without major rebuilding work to allow both tracks through.

There have already been previous consultations, and now they have narrowed the plans down to three options:

  • Extending the Elizabeth line to Gravesend using existing railway tracks.
    • This would see 12 trains per hour to Abbey Wood, with 8 trains per hour going on to Northfleet, and 4 trains per hour extending to Gravesend.
  • Extending the Elizabeth line to Dartford on new railway tracks
    • This would create enough capacity on the railway to allow all 12 trains per hour that would call at Abbey Wood to be extended beyond that to Dartford, with 4 trains per hour going further to Northfleet.
  • National rail upgrades and a new rapid bus service
    • The cheapest option, which would mainly see an increase in Southeastern and Thameslink trains in the area, alongside improved bus services.

One issue which is not addressed in the consultation is paying for the upgrades.

Option 1 has the advantage of being much cheaper to build than option 2, albeit with fewer trains going past Abbey Wood, but there is still likely to be the need to buy a few additional trains to ensure that the 12 trains per hour frequency can be maintained on the existing Elizabeth line, which pushes the costs up.

Although there is enough space along most of the track between Abbey Wood and Dartford for the track to be doubled in width, there are some awkward pinch points that would need back gardens and some buildings to be removed. The main difficulty, as faced by Network Rail when building the tracks approaching Abbey Wood is that the railway is built upon an embankment and widening it required a lot of additional reinforcement in places to deal with the former marshy soil beneath.

The C2E group have previously said that they expect that up to half the cost of a railway upgrade could come from local sources, thanks to regeneration and new housing developments in Bexley Riverside, Dartford Town Centre and Ebbsfleet Garden City. A plan for a major entertainment park at Swanscombe would also be expected to fund transport upgrades.

The Mayor of London has supported the extension in principle but noted that London wouldn’t be providing any additional funding for it.

The results of the consultation will be submitted to the government later this year to seek funding. Any proposal for an extended Elizabeth line, or alternative rail upgrade is unlikely to be delivered before the mid-2030s at the earliest.

The consultation is here.

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17 comments
  1. Paul says:

    To this day it still bugs me that the connection between Ebbsfleet and Northfleet is so bad. Such a missed opportunity.

    • ianVisits says:

      The Ebbsfleet Development Corp bought the land between the two stations a couple of years back in order to include a direct link between them as part of a development plan.

    • Peter says:

      as an idea wonder if they could for crossrail spur off after swanscombe to a new bay platform on the west side of ebbsfleet?

  2. RS says:

    I support option 2. With option 1, I doubt there’s enough capacity for Crossrail on the North Kent Line to provide a proper metro service. It would have a negative impact on Southeastern services through Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich, and possibly on the Bexleyheath and Sidcup lines.

    • ianVisits says:

      You need to tell the consultation that, not post it here where the consultation wont see it.

    • BA says:

      Option 1 is far more preferable.
      1 and 2 would result in a wholesale timetable recast.
      Let’s be clear here. Although Gravesend has pretty much been omitted from this consultation, ever since the former C2G became C2E, more than 3 million used the station pre covid 19.
      Finally major residential led regeneration is planned for East Gravesend – and that’s just the start. Yet nothing about in the C2E documents regarding the 9000 Homes required for the Gravesend area, over the next few years.

      Northfleet is barely a town – it’s town centre is Gravesend town centre.
      Furthermore, Network Rail supported to the link to Gravesend, as it would provide the best platform to platform interchange for Maidstone/Medway, as opposed to station to station interchange 2 miles west.

      So far the Ebbsfleet International has 4 car parks still undeveloped.
      If International and high speed domestic services can’t get the indicative new buildings up and running, what evidence is there that Crossrail would? With a large and growing population, Gravesend makes far more sense – although perhaps it isn’t fashionable and unelitetist to state so.

  3. Mr Graham Ponton says:

    The distance between Ebbsfleet int. & Northfleet is about 300 metres as the crow flies, wow!!! Plus Ebbsfleet can get into London in 12 minutes already!!

    • ChrisC says:

      As the crow flies is not helpful unless you are (a) a crow or (b) able to teleport.

      google maps tells me the shortest waking route is 0.7 of a mile (14 minute walk) or 1.2 miles in a car

  4. Psi says:

    The North Kent line wasn’t proposed as part of Crossrail until 2002, the 1990s scheme only had one eastern branch.

    During the 2003 and 2004 consultations for Crossrail the North Kent branch started off as going to Ebbsfleet International, then revised to run to Gravesend, then revised to only go to Abbey Wood for the scheme for the Bill. A key reason was to have only 25kV overhead power. Running OHLE at and beyond Dartford where it needs to combine with third rail would have been challenging. When the proposal was to go beyond Abbey Wood a changeover to third rail was going to be at Custom House, but terminating at Abbey Wood meant the whole line could be overhead electrified.

    • ianVisits says:

      The 1974 scheme included the southern branch, in this case via London Bridge.

      It was the 1990s Crossrail scheme and the 2000 London East-West Study that dropped the southern branch, only for it to be reintroduced.

  5. Syed says:

    How long the main entrance from cranbrook road Ilford ,is completed ,as is now 18 months,people are suffer they have to go long way to the other side of the sration

  6. MilesT says:

    I think this may have similar political funding problems as the Watford Croxley extension of the underground.

    The mayor has already drawn a line in the sand on terms of funding.

  7. N says:

    Realistically, option 3 is the only option going to happen, Abbey Wood during the rebuilding didn’t make any provisions for a future Kent extension.

    This will still require a timetable change in the area as the demand for CrossRail will
    Be high.

    They should extend the CX to Dartfords to Gravesend for starters

  8. James Brown says:

    I afraid this ain’t gonna work. As far as rail depots concerned; Slade Green rail depot is one place if any purpose. What if a temporary plan is Slade Green Depot should upgrade sometime because if they want some Overhead wires additionally from 3rd rail dc together? That means Crossrail could share sometime along with Southeastern trains on Slade Green Depot, that’s what it means from Crossrail South Thamesmead Depot from East Plumstead sidings with tunnel portal.

    That’s how I fear against unlikely you see.
    Some people or MPs shouldn’t know better in a first place ever since, they say ‘cross-platforms’ might solved a puzzle as far as ‘Mile End’ stn btw Central (end sides), District, and Hammersmith and City lines (middle), which is clearly miscalculated by how to resolve Abbey Wood railway station to get it right sometimes, sadly. That’s the way it is.

  9. Receipt says:

    It would be good if the Boris Island is still live and the crossrail extends to the Boris island

    • ianVisits says:

      Please check if a plan is live before commenting about extending the Elizabeth line to it.

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