A proposal to extend the Elizabeth line into Kent has been submitted to the government following a number of years of consultation work.

A number of options were being considered for a possible extension of the line beyond Abbey Wood station, and the councils along the route have opted for the cheapest of the two extension options. If it’s built, this would see 12 trains per hour to Abbey Wood as is already planned, then extended past there to offer 8 trains per hour to Northfleet, and 4 trains per hour extending to Gravesend.

The Leaders of Bexley, Dartford, and Gravesham councils along with Kent County Council have jointly signed a letter that was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) along with an outline business case, highlighting the council’s commitment to the scheme going forward and to the additional housing that would emerge from it.

They confirm that the letter and business case was sent to the DfT last month, but also accepted that “there may not be further progress until Transport for London’s future funding arrangements are determined”.

If implemented, then the additional Elizabeth line trains would be sharing the existing North Kent line tracks with the Southeastern and Thameslink services.

To fit the additional Elizabeth line trains onto the existing tracks means cutting some other national rail service. The main cut would be between Dartford and Northfleet, where there would be a 2 trains per hour reduction in the national rail services — offset by the gain of 8 trains per hour from the Elizabeth line.

East of Northfleet to Gravesend though, the additional 4 trains per hour from the Elizabeth line would be a like-for-like replacement of the 4 trains per hour cut from the national rail service.

Proposed service (c) Abbeywood2Ebbsfleet consultation

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

Even if funding can be secured, any proposals for an extended Elizabeth line or alternative rail upgrade are unlikely to be delivered before the mid-2030s at the very earliest.

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17 comments
  1. 100andthirty says:

    This will require a long section of dual 750V 3rd rail and 25kV overhead electrification

    • Dominic says:

      Or adding 3rd rail DC equipment to the class 345

    • Julian Walker says:

      Thameslink trains are already dual-voltage so could take the majority of workings beyond Dartford. The class 707s could easily become dual-voltage. As the extension is unlikely to happen until at least the mid-2030s anyway (if at all) there is plenty of time to work out a fleet strategy.

  2. 100andthirty says:

    I believe all recent DC units have had provision made for conversion to AC. I don’t believe the same is true for adapting AC units for DC.

  3. Andrew Williams says:

    Why not add East Croydon and Side Cup too the Elizabeth line then or not add gatewick airport too as well well its only a train and it then have a all fare price difference of a tamesline train and ticket then

  4. Wise1 says:

    So the proposal would replace the 2tph Gravesend/CX via Sidcup and 2tph Gravesend/VIC vix Bxh.
    So what is planned for the Hoo service? As I understand, the present CX/GRA is to be extended to Hoo, therefore the so – called like for like replacement, is not quite accurate is it?

  5. David Jones says:

    This reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon. “Welcome to another round of if ‘we had money’”.

  6. Flo says:

    So the only advantage of the line is to be fast between stations and then they choose to make it stop at every possible stations on the way.
    Dont get it

    • Ryan says:

      Direct service to Elizabeth Line statios is an advantage you have ignored. Class 345 trains can also fit more people, and board more quickly.

  7. j says:

    so slade green won’t be used for national rail? slade green is used for so many lines. it’s literally a depot.

    • Steven Saunders says:

      It’s only the loop between Slade Green and Barnehurst which would not be used by passenger trains. Passenger would still run Erith-Slade Green-Dartford.

  8. Damian says:

    Really they could get a significant benefit just by making Northfleet and Ebbsfleet actually connected

  9. Dan Coleman says:

    So many layers of complexity to this! Retrofitting 70 trains to third rail pickup, potentially more trains needed, the junction at Abbey Wood, another signalling interface, platform alterations, station capacity upgrades, contactless payment extensions, presumably turnback facilities at Northfleet, the connection between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet (is that a pig flying?!) and much much more.

    Funding this is going to be a significant challenge. Particularly as the passenger benefit of extension is pretty weak. (You’d only be saving yourself a 2 minute change at Abbey Wood).

    It’s nice to dream.

  10. Steven Saunders says:

    It’s a pity Abbey Wood station wasn’t rebuilt to have the Southeastern trains on the outer platforms and Crossrail trains terminating and and starting from tracks in the middle which would have enabled simple cross-platform interchange between the two services instead of having to use the stairs or lifts to get from one to the other.

    • Ryan says:

      Abbey Wood was built to enable the correct option for a Dartford extension, which is four-tracking with dedicated lines for the Crossrail service.

  11. David Winter says:

    Firstly, due to PEDs on the Crossrail underground platforms, only trains with matching door spacings could be considered.

    Secondly, only trains fitted with the full complement of Crossrail in-cab signalling, ATO and train protection could be considered.

    1 and 2 rule OUT all existing dual voltage EMUs.

    Thirdly, the Crossrail core in theory could handle MORE than 24tph. What remains to be determined is passenger behaviour at stops – as to whether an acceptable level of reliability can be attained.

    Fourthly, experience tells us that retrofitting complementary power sources is no mean feat (230 and 769 being examples). The 345s, AIUI, were NOT designed for future adaptation to dual voltage. May I suggest any proposal to do this would not be gladly received by the authorities concerned.

    So our conclusion: new dual voltage (likely by then to also have good battery range, too) trains will need to be procured. Extra distance means extra fleet, of course. This will be about the time of mid-life overhaul for the 345s, so could be timed to release 345s for that work.

    Finally, there will be no parallel AC and DC lines east of Abbey Wood. All traction current will be the same as other trains on the section … DC at present. NR has a very long range vision to see 3rd rail phased out – but no works program is in place.

  12. Joshua James says:

    So from what I can gather from this is that all Sidcup and Bexleyheath line trains would be curtailed at Dartford indefinitely while the Medway services via Woolwich would continue to run, so I’m guess the Medway service would be semi fast between Abbey Wood & Gravesend as per the old semi fast pattern and similar to other national rail lines like the C2C and the Aylesbury line skipping out the minor TfL stations but calling at larger stations.

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