Developing options to enhance the transport network
In summer 2020, a longlist of potential options to improve the transport network in the study area was drawn up. This longlist was subject to high level assessment and sifted down to eight broad options for further consideration.

The eight options were then subject to further assessment in autumn 2020. At this point, a potential Docklands Light Railway extension to Dartford and an Elizabeth Line extension on fully segregated tracks to Ebbsfleet were both discounted on the basis that they would not be affordable or represent good value for money. Minor improvements to National Rail services east of Dartford were also discounted on the basis that this would not provide an increase in the level of public transport service the area needs to support new housing and employment growth.

You can download a summary of how the options were assessed here.

There are five options that are now being developed in more detail:
  • three options involving different ways of extending the Elizabeth Line from Abbey Wood to Dartford and/or Northfleet/Ebbsfleet;
  • one option to improve National Rail services (with no change to the Elizabeth Line); and
  • one option to provide a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service with no changes to rail services.
Elizabeth Line Extension from Abbey Wood to Northfleet/Ebbsfleet

An extension of the Elizabeth Line from Abbey Wood would provide direct rail services into Canary Wharf, Central London and Heathrow Airport from the local area. These services would serve all stations east of Abbey Wood.

One option is to operate new Elizabeth Line services to Dartford, with improvements to Southeastern National Rail services between Dartford and Northfleet. Alternatively, there are two options where Elizabeth Line services could operate to Northfleet station. Under all options, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge would link Northfleet to Ebbsfleet International.

It is expected that at least six additional Elizabeth Line trains per hour would operate into central London, with the potential for more if more expensive infrastructure is built to allow them to operate. This would reduce the journey time into central London in the west, towards Ebbsfleet in the east, and to intermediate stations within the study area.

All stations served by the Crossrail services would likely be rebuilt with step free access.

These options are expected to support the highest amount of new housing and employment growth within the study area. They will also be the most expensive to deliver, may require some land take and have greater construction impacts. These options would have the highest beneficial impact on reducing carbon emissions from transport and improving air quality.




Elizabeth Line Extension - Option 1 (click to enlarge)




Elizabeth Line Extension - Option 2 (click to enlarge)




Elizabeth Line Extension - Option 3 (click to enlarge)


National Rail: Running more frequent services between Abbey Wood and Northfleet/Ebbsfleet

Improvements to the existing National Rail services (Southeastern and Thameslink) between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet could include running a small number of additional services, as well as retimetabling existing services so that there are more direct services between these two stations. Services would serve all intermediate stations along the route. A pedestrian and cycle bridge would also be created at Northfleet to allow access to Ebbsfleet International.

This would mean that passengers travelling to central London would either have to change at Abbey Wood to access the Elizabeth Line, or could stay on existing services which serve London Bridge and London Cannon Street.

This option would result in an increase in the frequency of rail services compared to the current service pattern but would be a lower number of services than the Elizabeth Line options.

This option would likely result in lower levels of inward investment and fewer new homes and jobs than an extension to the Elizabeth Line. It would also be cheaper, depending on the final type of infrastructure required. This option would be beneficial in reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality, although not to the same extent as the Elizabeth Line options.



National Rail Option: running more frequent services (click to enlarge)


Bus Rapid Transit between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet

This option would use a mix of dedicated bus lanes and traffic management measures on the existing road network to provide a high quality, fast bus service that connects employment areas with town centres. It would be similar in nature to the current Fastrack services between Dartford and Gravesend. As part of this option there would be:

  • Two new dedicated routes connecting with existing Fastrack services and infrastructure
  • Bus stops provided approximately 300 to 500 metres apart.
  • Use of single-deck electric buses.
  • Operation of a bus up to every 10 minutes in each direction on each route.

The delivery of this option would require some reallocation of road space which may reduce the capacity of the road network for cars and other vehicles. The new bus services would provide enhanced connections to existing rail stations and serving developments across the wider area.

This option could be the lowest cost to deliver and would also likely result in the lowest level of inward investment, and delivery of new homes and jobs. This option would be beneficial in reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality, although not to the same extent as the Elizabeth Line options.




Bus Rapid Transit Option: running more frequent services between Abbey Wood and Northfleet/Ebbsfleet (click to enlarge)

Comparison of optionsThe below table shows a comparison between each of the options currently being considered.

Option Elizabeth Line National Rail Bus Rapid Transit
Elizabeth Line Extension Option 1 Elizabeth Line Extension Option 2 Elizabeth Line Extension Option 3 National Rail Option Bus Rapid Transit Option
Up to 6 Elizabeth Line services per hour from Abbey Wood to Northfleet Up to 12 Elizabeth Line services per hour from Abbey Wood to Northfleet Up to 12 Elizabeth Line services per hour to Dartford and enhanced National Rail services between Northfleet and Dartford Minimum National Rail service of 8 trains per hour between Northfleet and Abbey Wood Up to 6 bus services between Abbey Wood, Ebbsfleet, Dartford, Bluewater, Slade Green and  Crossways
Option characteristic Option score by performance characteristic
Transport connectivity improvement High Very high Very high Moderate Moderate
Contribution to unlocking area housing growth Very high Very high Very high Moderate Low
Contribution to driving economic growth High Very high Very high Moderate Low
Infrastructure delivery Challenging Very challenging Very challenging Moderately challenging Moderately challenging
Operational delivery Very challenging Very challenging Challenging Modestly challenging Moderately challenging
Cost to deliver High Very high Very high Moderate Moderate
Reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality High Very high Very high Moderate Moderate
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