A plan to extend the Elizabeth line — into Essex and Kent

Lower than a yr after it opened, one other try is being proposed to increase the Elizabeth line, this time by way of a 30-mile loop by way of elements of Essex and Kent. The proposal, from Thurrock Council, is included in a wider proposal to enhance native transport hyperlinks and will see the 2 jap spurs of the Elizabeth line joined in a loop that will run beneath the Thames.

Elizabeth line map with proposed extension (c) Thurrock Council

The advised proposal is for the Elizabeth line to take over the present London Overground line from Romford to Upminster. Then it might take over the present single-track railway that runs between Upminster and Grays, onto Tilbury.

Then it might go beneath the Thames to Gravesend, the place it might hyperlink in with the already proposed extension between Abbey Wooden and Northfleet.

There are nevertheless some fairly substantial engineering issues to beat.

The Elizabeth line trains arrive at Romford station on the north facet of the station, however the railway to Upminister is on the south facet, so a big flyover can be wanted to hyperlink the 2 sides up.

There may be sufficient area to double-track the railway to Upminster, however the single platform Emerson Park station is tiny and would wish a substantial rebuild.

At Upminster, the identical drawback as at Romford exists, in that the Elizabeth line trains can be arriving on the north facet of Upminster station and would wish a flyover to get to the south facet for to run over the C2C line all the way down to Grays.

The 2 present stations at Chafford Hundred and Ockendon will want rebuilding, and the plans embrace a brand new station at South Ockendon.

As soon as the extension reaches Tilbury, the intention is that it might dive right into a tunnel beneath the Thames to Gravesend. The problem is learn how to hyperlink the tunnel with the railway at Gravesend because the station is within the city centre. The most certainly choice can be to hitch the railways to the east of the city the place there’s empty land appropriate for the tunnel portal.

The most certainly choice to realize that although would require the railway to move out of Tilbury to the east after which loop all the way down to the river on the jap facet of the previous Tilbury Energy Stations.

None of those engineering points are within the report by Thurrock Council, which is admittedly a really high-level aspiration at this stage, however even at this stage of element, the issues are straightforward to have recognized previous to publication.

If the flyovers weren’t wanted, an Elizabeth line extension to Thurrock can be costly, however inexpensive if funded by substantial housing alongside the C2C spur between Grays and Upminster. The necessity for the flyovers makes it nearly definitely unaffordable although.

There’s additionally the customarily neglected difficulty that alongside the railway observe and station upgrades, you want a lot more trains, they usually’re not low cost. At round £15 million every, you’d probably want a further 20 trains for the extension, plus the depot so someplace within the area of £350 million on prime of the railway infrastructure upgrades.

That may often come out in additional detailed analysis into the prices. Thurrock Council will nevertheless wrestle to pay for the required analysis into the proposal to flesh out the main points, having just lately filed a Part 114 discover barring any new expenditure after it dropped right into a £500 million deficit attributable to failed investments.

It’s not that there’s a scarcity of want for transport upgrades, because the railways in/out of London are congested and there’s a scarcity of capability at Fenchurch Avenue station to deal with way more. The realm is nevertheless unusually fortunate in having the north-south line between Grays and Upminster, which wants double monitoring, or bypass loops added to extend capability.

The perennial query is about paying for the improve.

Simply the Abbey Wooden to Northfleet part by way of Kent has been beforehand estimated to price round £3 billion — so doubling it by way of Essex as effectively, would probably double the fee once more.

A big chunk of the present Elizabeth line was funded by property developments, however the space round this extension is essentially already developed with suburban housing, and solely about 20 p.c passes by way of land that might be developed if Inexperienced Belt objections may be overcome.

The council’s report (pdf) does take a look at how native transport upgrades might be delivered to make native journeys higher, and it might probably be considerably simpler to improve the present C2C line into London, than to construct an enormous 30-mile loop extension of the Elizabeth line.

This text was revealed on ianVisits


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