The plan to review the cabinet meeting recording to see if anything
interesting was said about libraries is a casualty of time pressures, Instead I must hastily fall back on something
much easier to prepare; whether or not
Teresa O’Neill’s belief that there is a good chance of extending Crossrail
through the borough to Ebbsfleet is a pipe dream or not.
This is what she said in the leader’s report to council on 4th November…
I heard that my own thoughts turned to the new Abbey Wood station which will allow passengers entering from the north
(Felixstowe Road) to take a short cut to the Crossrail platforms by walking around the back
of the buffers. Difficult for the station planners and inconvenient for
passengers if the line is extended. Then there are the bridges. There is a plan to replace the Bexley
Road (A206 through Erith) bridge eventually but at present it looks less than ideal for
four tracks and an overhead electricity supply. (Photo 1)
If making the necessary changes are impractical and too expensive there is perhaps an alternative.
The existing Abbey Wood track plan allows engineering trains to access one of the Crossrail platforms from the North Kent line. There will be track switches behind the eastern end of Coptefield Drive and Hallifield Drive in Belvedere.
Crossrail trains from the track that does not end at the Abbey Wood buffers could get through to Belvedere if the different power supply systems could be accommodated. One is 25,000 volts AC and the other 750 volts DC.
Crossrail trains will, on delivery, be equipped only with overhead 25kV power systems, but there is some spare space on board. It would be possible to retrofit the rectifiers (or whatever the modern equivalent may be).
Occasional trains at Abbey Wood could then wait while the power systems were switched over before proceeding to Ebbsfleet; however I do wonder what the point of a shared track system might be.
Southeastern finds it impossible to run a punctual service so the repercussions of mixing the two services could extend right across the Crossrail network. If Southeastern cuts back on its North Kent service to accommodate Crossrail trains, passengers from Plumstead through to London Bridge might suffer, although perhaps more could start at Plumstead.
Another casualty could be Barnehurst and the Sidcup line where half the trains currently come from Abbey Wood. If the power supply changeover takes longer than a few seconds the only real advantage to passengers from Belvedere, Erith and all points east will that they do not have to change trains.
If the railway managers say a shared stopping service to Ebbsfleet with no downsides is practical, then by all means do it, but if it is only to keep Teresa O’Neill quiet then a two track service looks like being a rather bad idea. She probably knows the square root of Sweet Fanny Adams about how to run a railway.
At the Abbey Wood Community Centre the Network Rail managers set up their stall today to answer awkward questions from disaffected residents but of rather more interest to me was what was going on at the station itself. Lorries were delivering track ballast every five or ten minutes and making rapid progress on forming a track bed. Not only that, the track was going down too. Suddenly a building site began to look like a railway station.
The track installation pictures may be seen on today’s ‘Around Abbey Wood’ photo feature.
Please note that on 4th November the council leader said that work on Gayton and Felixstowe Road was completed, albeit with a temporary road surface. When looking through the pictures, see if you think she fibbed.
Note: The problems noted with a Crossrail extension are from conversations with various railway staff.