Bexley Council and authorities in Kent have submitted their proposed Crossrail extension beyond Abbey Wood to the Department for Transport after two rounds of consultation earlier this year.
Documents before a Bexley Council meeting this week highlight the option chosen, which is the cheapest of two on the table.
It would see 8 out of 12 terminating Elizabeth Line services extend beyond Abbey Wood on existing tracks in contrast to constructing two dedicated tracks at higher cost.
The existing line sees six Southeastern and two Thameslink running beyond Abbey Wood, with two Southeastern services operating the rounder service which they propose to cut.
The plan states that the rounder to be cut heads to the Bexleyheath line, but the vast majority of rounder services actually run to the Sidcup line.
Cutting Southeastern services would mean reducing frequencies between Abbey Wood and London Bridge on a line that serves areas of major housing growth, such as Charlton Riverside with 8,000-planned homes plus 1,750 homes near Plumstead station set to begin soon – to name just two major areas of development, would appear a non-starter.
There’s also Woolwich Dockyard and the Morris Walk estate rebuild approved in recent months. Deptford too is in line for Convoys Wharf (3,000 homes) and numerous other plots.
With limited space for Southeastern services to terminate at Abbey Wood, it would mean 16 services per hour sharing track though that is far from easy to achieve.
Dartford lacks platform space for eight Crossrail services heading through further into Kent alongside not only all current Southeastern services, but two more which would be the current rounder services diverted to Dartford.
A substantial rebuild would be needed.
The full passage in the council report reads:
“The C2E Connectivity Study has completed its work, with the submission of the Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) to Government in October.
The study involved a huge amount of work in examining potential public transport schemes along the Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet corridor and the potential growth in terms of additional homes and jobs that each scheme could unlock.
The preferred scheme is one that would see 8 of the 12 Elizabeth Line trains per hour that are currently planned to terminate at Abbey Wood be extended eastwards, sharing the existing North Kent line tracks with the Southeastern and Thameslink services.
This scheme would best meet the scheme objectives set out by the Government as well as wider Government priorities. It also has strong potential to address the challenges faced by the corridor, as well as providing the best value for money.
Along with the Leaders of Dartford and Gravesham Borough Councils and Kent County Council, I signed a letter that was submitted along with the SOBC, highlighting our commitment to the scheme going forward and to the additional housing that would emerge from it.
It has not always been easy, but I am proud that the C2E Partnership has remained strong and cohesive during this process. Although we realise there may not be further progress until Transport for London’s future funding arrangements are determined and the Elizabeth Line hopefully has a successful opening, we will be doing our best to maintain momentum for the project in the meantime.”
That last bit in effect means don’t expect anything soon and with good reason. Government are cutting and delaying transport projects nationwide, and the chances of this project securing funding in the next decade is minimal, let alone building it.
In the meantime though housing will continue to be built, and so other projects that are far cheaper and more attainable can be pushed, such as ensuring Thameslink trains stop at Erith and Belvedere stations.
Other easier goals are extending Thameslink services from 8 to 12 carriages alongside Southeastern services to the same length to cope with passengers and population growth into the 2030s.