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.
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.