Network Rail has set out a major 30-year rail capacity upgrade programme for lines between London and Kent. It includes rebuilding Charing Cross Station and constructing new rail links in the area.
Passenger numbers on lines between London and Kent are set to rise 47% by 2044 and many lines are already at full capacity during peak hours. Passenger numbers using high-speed commuter trains to and from St Pancras International are expected to increase 127%.
In response, Network Rail has produced its draft Kent Area Route Study, outlining major upgrades to take place over the next 30 years, split into work taking place before and after 2024.
A public consultation is open until June 30, allowing time for people and businesses to respond to the proposals. Work to be undertaken before 2024 is being consulted on for inclusion in the next financial control period (CP6), which runs from 2019 to 2024.
“A bigger, better and more reliable railway is absolutely vital to support jobs housing, and economic growth in Kent and south east London in the decades ahead,” said Network Rail route managing director for the South East John Halsall.
“Our plan sets out how we will cater for forecast passenger growth up to the mid-2020s, primarily through longer trains at the busiest times of day. Beyond that, we need to look at more radical options to enable more frequent services and changing service patterns across the region.”
Options listed in the study include capacity increases to 2024, and longer term upgrades to 2044. The populations of Kent and south east London are expected to increase significantly as a garden city could be built at Ebbsfleet and major housing schemes are expected in north Kent.
Work over the next six years is designed to improve use of existing capacity. It includes lengthening some platforms, increasing trains to 12 carriages and creating better digital technology for signalling. A new passenger train franchise is due to start in 2018 for Kent.
Proposals beyond 2024 signal major infrastructure works, such as rebuilding Charing Cross station and adding tracks at Victoria so that longer trains can terminate, similar to current work at Waterloo.
- Build platform extensions to accommodate longer trains, including those at Woolwich Dockyard. Some minor work at Waterloo East station
- Create a rail link between High Speed 1 and the Marshlink route (a diesel powered line running from Ashford to Hastings in Kent), which could include an electrification scheme or bi-mode trains that can run on diesel or electric power
- Introduce new signalling systems including traffic management technology, which functions like air traffic control. It would reduce disruption on busy sections, such as Orpington to London
- Lengthen some peak time trains to 12 carriages where needed
- Rebuild Charing Cross station so that more and longer trains can terminate there, potentially extending the platforms across the Thames
- Build additional tracks on the route into Victoria station, again to allow more and longer trains to terminate there.
- Create a link from Ebbsfleet International via Fawkham to stations on the Bromley South route, and a link between Faversham and Ashford as the route has poor road services