With the main Crossrail project now mostly complete, and with tracks running right through the new tunnels, there has been much talk of Crossrail 2 as the next project, crossing under London from South West to North East and linking Wimbledon with the Leigh Valley.
Rather overlooked is a shorter-term proposal to extend the current Crossrail (or Elizabeth line as it will be called) from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet in Kent.
Two of Crossrail’s three ‘legs’ extend quite a way from London – in the West out to Reading and in Essex to Shenfield.
But in the South East the new railway emerges from the Plumstead portal and then stops at Abbey Wood station just a few hundred metres away. Passengers then cross the platform to pick up Southeastern services for onward travel.
But now an extension has been proposed to take the line on, calling at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and terminating at Ebbsfleet.
Known as C2E – Crossrail 2 Ebbsfleet – this proposal would connect several major brownfield development sites with central London, London City and Heathrow airports, and the West, while also connecting Crossrail passengers with Eurostar and the continent.
Speaking at the recent seminar on ‘Delivering Crossrail and next steps for Crossrail 2’, organised by the Policy Forum for London, Paul Moore, director of place, communities and infrastructure for the London Borough of Bexley, explained that, just in Bexley, there was 1,100 acres of developable space available.
Talking as a sub-region, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, and Gravesham borough councils, the potential is for 55,000 new homes and £50,000 jobs – “serious, serious growth potential,” as Paul put it.
“These are some of the lowest land values around the M25,” he added. “There are reasons why this land has not been developed, in part because of the poor transport infrastructure. Both the frequency and the travel times for people in this part of the world are limited. Dartford is currently getting about six trains an hour, and there’s huge demand in the area for better services. ”
Which is what C2E is hoping to address. The plan is to have a fundable proposition ready for next summer.