LACK OF rail capacity in north Kent last week forced the Department for Transport to ditch a key section of London's £8bn Crossrail project.
Trains on Crossrail's south eastern branch will now terminate at Abbey Wood, eight stations short of the original planned terminus at the Ebbsfleet Channel Tunnel Rail Link station in Kent.
The decision to cut out this part of the route comes just four months after it was decided to drop a link to Richmond in south west London (NCE 29 July).
A Crossrail spokesman said the project team had advised the DfT to drop the Ebbsfleet section as efforts to draft the enabling bill for the project intensified.
The Crossrail bill is due to go before parliament early in the New Year (News last week).
It will enable construction of an east west link across London with 24 trains an hour running through the central tunnelled section. East of London the route splits with trains heading for Essex and Kent.
Project promoter Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) originally developed plans for a service to Ebbsfleet.
This involved running the Kent bound service as far as Abbey Wood, with four trains per hour continuing to Ebbsfleet on Network Rail track.
But CLRL has since found that the logistics of turning trains around at Abbey Wood were complicated by the fact that the rail network there was only twin track.
This and the need to fit Ebbsfleet trains between Kent commuter services on the North Kent line weakened the case for running trains beyond Abbey Wood.
'CLRL concluded that the risk of delay caused by Crossrail trains having to interleave with North Kent Line services and the subsequent disruption to Crossrail's high frequency pattern was unacceptable, ' said CLRL in a statement.
'A new cross platform interchange will be built at Abbey Wood to ensure smooth connection for passengers wishing to travel to and from north Kent, ' it said.