Bexley Council’s website front page carries news of
their consultation on
extending Crossrail down to Ebbsfleet. If Bexley Council had been as keen on
Crossrail fifteen years ago there may have been no need to fight a
rear-guard action now. The initial lack of enthusiasm for a
railway line that stops in the borough of Greenwich almost lost it for the South East entirely.
Fortunately the Labour MP who represented parts of Erith, Belvedere, Thamesmead
and parts of Plumstead kept the Abbey Wood branch alive with
her Parliamentary speeches.
Belatedly extending the line to Ebbsfleet is fraught with difficulty one of which is only a yard or two beyond the existing buffer stops; it is called the Harrow Manorway flyover and there is no room for two tracks to head off towards Dartford without a rebuild.
The remaining options are analysed in depth on the Murky Depths website and there is no point in duplicating the excellent report to be found there.
All that I can add is that when I was taking daily looks at Crossrail developments, being invited on site a few times and becoming familar with their senior engineering staff their reaction to the idea of extending the line to Ebbsfleet would be one of disbelief and when pressed suggest maybe in 35 years or 2050 at best.
For the record, Crossrail trains can be easily modified to third rail operation so the pantograph could be dropped and trains trundle off to Belvedere and beyond. An unwanted short delay and Crossrail trains would be left to jostle with Southeastern and the inevitable main line delays. That is not what anyone expects of part of the London Underground service.
We would no doubt lose some of the existing Southeastern services too which may not please travellers to the West; Plumstead etc.