KenEx cross-Thames tram system proposal is received positively by Local Authorities and is ‘certainly feasible’
Plans for a £600million tram scheme connecting Kent and Essex and incorporating an immersed tunnel under the Thames have received a further boost following the positive results of a recent feasibility study.
The public transport project, known as KenEx, proposes two new tram lines was drawn up by promoter Thames Gateway Tramlink. The first would be a line connecting Grays with Bluewater via the proposed London Resort theme park on the Swanscombe Peninsula and Ebbsfleet International station. This route would incorporate a 1.2km immersed tunnel under the River Thames. The second line would connect Gravesend with Dartford via the Crossways Business Park.
KenEx is working closely with Local Authorities and other stakeholders progressing planning and the provision of a “Net zero” emissions transport solution with the added advantages of reducing local traffic congestion and providing an alternative to the Dartford Crossing.
Recent site visits by a team of international immersed tunnel experts from respected infrastructure company COWI confirmed the proposed tunnel was “certainly feasible” at the proposed location and that the proposal has “great merit”. COWI director Damian McGirr said “Based on present knowledge, construction of a new river crossing at the proposed location as an immersed tunnel appears feasible. When comparing with recently constructed immersed tunnels in Denmark (Copenhagen, Sound), Sweden (Stockholm, Söderström and Gothenburg, Marieholm) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Metro North-South Line), the site conditions for the KenEx tram appear well suited for an immersed tunnel”. A KenEx spokesperson added “The tunnel is a key element of the KenEx project and independent confirmation of the feasibility work undertaken to date on this element has been an important step forward.”
In July, Kent County Council, stated that “Fastrack must continue to evolve to become a totally credible mass transit system carrying up to 30 million passengers per annum” comparing the capacity requirements to Croydon Tramlink and targeting a 25% mode share that would require the passenger appeal of such a tram system. KenEx is pleased to be able to provide the necessary enhancements to bring that credibility and mode share to support KCC in achieving its stated objectives.
Alan Hunte, business development director at Sustainable Advantage has been working with the KenEx project planning team advising on sustainability strategies. As a self-contained light rail project the KenEx Tram scheme could open for passengers within 10 years with the aim of providing sustainable public transport infrastructure in the heart of the Thames Estuary Growth area. The business case for the project argues that an inclusive tram crossing between North Kent and Grays would support residential developments either side of the Thames together with excellent connections to places of work, recreation, retail and health facilities. It aims to help reduce car traffic at the heavily congested Dartford Crossing and on local roads. The resulting reduction in pollution levels increasing air quality across the south east of England, fully supporting the UK Government target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Thames Gateway Tramlink Managing Director, Gordon Pratt, said “We are pleased to be working with the prevailing direction of public opinion. With climate change and sustainable transport moving ever further up the agenda we are actively working on part of the solution. We see that working with Sustainable Advantage, who share our ethos as being a winning formula all round including communities, businesses and Local Authorities.”
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