Kent proposals considered in Network Rail route study

A number of proposals to develop the rail network serving the South East in the draft Kent Area Route Study that is currently out for consultation. The consultation opened on 14 March 2017 for three months.

Ebbsfleet Southern Link

A scheme has been developed that could provide a connection to Ebbsfleet International from the line that runs from HS1 to Fawkham Junction, which was formerly used by Eurostars to access London Waterloo. It has been recently used to store Eurostars. This proposal would offer an alternative route into Ebbsfleet and a helpful route from south London.

Canterbury Chords

Two chords have been proposed between the Ashford to Canterbury West and Faversham to Canterbury East lines. A western chord in the Chartham area could create a direct route between Faversham and Ashford improving north-south connectivity across Kent. A southern chord could improve network resilience with the exposed railway line between Folkestone and Dover.

New railway stations

A number of railway stations have been noted.

  • Thanet Parkway
  • Camberwell
  • East Brixton
  • Otterpool Park – Garden Town
  • Gillingham Stadium

Addenbrookes could be built without public money

John Laing Infrastructure are working with Network Rail to investigate the feasibility of building the railway station at Addenbrookes. If no major infrastructure works are required to develop the station, it has been suggested that it could be built without public money. It is understood that there are potential timetable implications to deliver this railway station.

Click here for the article

Preferred site for Skelmersdale railway station identified

Lancashire County Council, in partnership with West Lancashire Borough Council and Merseytravel, has identified the former Glenburn Sports College/Westbank Campus site as the preferred location for a railway station for Skelmersdale.
The decision follows a comparative assessment of the two possible sites, identified in an earlier study by Network Rail.

The assessment, commissioned by the county council and carried out by Network Rail, looked at the two identified sites: the former Glenburn Sports College / Westbank Campus site and the site next to the Concourse shopping centre.
The study assessed the potential station sites against a number of criteria, including:

  • impact on the highway
  • good pedestrian and cycle access
  • able to provide a park and ride sufficient for 250 vehicles but capable of expansion to cater for up to 500 vehicles
  • able to provide a set down and pick up area
  • able to provide a station building with good passenger and staff accommodation along with the ability to provide a retail facility
  • able to provide good bus interchange with up to four drive through bus stands
  • able to provide good connectivity to the town centre/residential areas
  • potential challenges to the construction of the station
  • ability to act as a catalyst for regeneration.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This is a really exciting step forward in the process of bringing a railway station to Skelmersdale.
“This was a comprehensive study and clearly identified the Glenburn Sports College and Westbank Campus site as the most suitable option. The site is big enough to provide a high quality station with scope to expand to meet future demand. It has good highway access and good connectivity to the town and the surrounding area.
“There is still a long way to go on this project but identifying the right site is a really significant milestone on the way.”
Councillor John Hodson, West Lancashire Borough Council portfolio holder for Planning, said: “The Borough Council is really pleased that in partnership with Lancashire County Council progress continues to be made on this key project.”

“The identification of the preferred location for a railway station is an important step in a major project for the people of Skelmersdale and the Borough Council looks forward to working with the county council to ensure the station is built.”

The former Glenburn Sports College closed on 31 August 2016. The site is owned by Lancashire County Council. The former Westbank Campus is owned by Newcastle College, which merged with Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College in 2007. Both sites are currently unused. 

The county council will now start the process of acquiring the relevant land.

Surrey County Council launches Heathrow southern rail access study

Surrey County Council has revealed plans to launch a study to examine the possibility of creating a rail link to Heathrow from the south in the month the airport celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Around 9,000 people from Surrey work at the airport but there is currently no direct rail link from the county.

It means that more than three-quarters of them currently commute to Heathrow on the county’s roads*, which are among the busiest in the country.

The news comes after a Network Rail report suggested there was a strong case for a new route connecting Heathrow, which opened on 31 May 1946 as London Airport, to Waterloo, Guildford and Basingstoke – generally referred to by the industry as ‘southern rail access’.

Last year the authority called for a new rail service to Waterloo from the airport via Staines and improved rail access to Heathrow was previously identified in the council’s rail strategy as key to helping boost economic growth.

Surrey has already thrown its weight behind the Crossrail 2 project and called for full electrification of the North Downs Line for the benefits it will bring for commuters and the county’s £37 billion economy.

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning Mike Goodman said: “Good transport links are vital for economic growth.

“Thousands of people travel to Heathrow from Surrey every day, whether it’s to go to work or fly for business or pleasure.

“But rail links to the airport from the county are poor and Surrey’s roads are among the country’s busiest. That’s why we have decided to launch this study, irrespective of whether Heathrow expands.”

Arup has been commissioned to write the report, which is expected to be published by the summer, and discussions are now taking place about the key areas it should cover.

*Heathrow Airport Employment Survey

Councils call for Crossrail 2 to head east

Government is being urged to commit to an Eastern Phase for Crossrail 2 to unlock the full potential for growth in East London and South Essex.

The call follows findings from a new study which uses the latest projections on population, housing and jobs, as well as research into the benefits of Crossrail 2 services heading east through Hackney, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Thurrock and South Essex.

It finds the huge potential for development in this region, earmarked as one of the UK’s largest strategic locations for growth, could be undermined by leaving it to be served by existing transport infrastructure.

The study, commissioned by Barking and Dagenham, Essex, Hackney and Newham councils, recommends that the Crossrail 2 track split after Angel Station. One branch would head north as planned, while another would go east to Hackney Central, before heading to Hackney Wick and out through Newham and Barking and Dagenham. This new line would then link to the existing Essex Thameside network, with Crossrail 2 services terminating at Basildon and Grays.

Lord Adonis recently announced a new report from the National Infrastructure Commission about how Crossrail 2 should progress. It recommends it focus initially on a single line heading north from Angel, via Dalston Junction and Tottenham Hale, to Hertfordshire. However, it also recommends that the possibility of an Eastern Phase be fully explored. Chancellor George Osborne subsequently backed the Crossrail 2 project in his Budget last week.

The mayors and leaders of the four councils which commissioned the study are now urging Government to commit to making this Eastern Phase integral to the future development of Crossrail 2.

Benefits of the Eastern Phase proposals include:

  • A £20.5 billion boost to the economy.
  • Support the expected population growth of 512,000 people.
  • Support the 265,000 new jobs and 233,000 new homes earmarked for the region.
  • Reduced journey times from South Essex and East London to Central London – many by more than 50%, some by almost 30 minutes.
  • Trains every four minutes between Barking and Hackney, and every eight minutes from Basildon and Grays.
  • Additional capacity for 67,000 commuters during the morning peak.
  • Relieved overcrowding on Essex Thameside Route, the District Line, the Hammersmith & City Line, and London Overground.

Source: Hackney Council