The rail link terminates in front of a 112-feet-high eight-storey concrete office block, one of the survivors of the 2008 to 2010 demolition works. This was used in the planning of the demolition works and rail link project. Radar equipment for the Port of London Authority (PLA) is affixed to the roof, but this building is scheduled for demolition.

Revised track work on the North Kent Line included a new facing crossover between the running lines north west of the station platforms, and the addition of a trailing set of points on the ‘’up’’ running line. This allowed trains from the ‘’down’’ line to access the private sidings by crossing over the ‘’up’’ running line – the latter could also be reached directly by departing freights. A new colour light signal was installed at the London end of the ‘’Departure’’ loop and an existing ‘’down’’ signal on the North Kent Line was fitted with a junction indicator (which illuminates to show the direction of travel). Making a connection with the North Kent Line was complicated by the fact that the route had been re-signalled since 1993, when the previous cement works connection went out of use. As a result, no provision had been made for a reinstated rail link when Ashford IECC superseded the Dartford Panel in 2001, and a comprehensive re-design of the signalling here was required to accommodate it. The formation of a junction between the North Kent Line and cement works, and installation of the crossover between ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ running lines, was undertaken over two weekend engineering possessions during September 2011. Construction of the rail link met a scheduled completion date of 1st February 2012.

GB Railfreight was awarded the contract to operate the spoil trains between Royal Oak and Northfleet by consortium BFK. The latter was a joint venture by BAM, Ferrovial, and Kier JV, which had been awarded the contract to bore Crossrail’s Western Tunnels (Royal Oak to Farringdon). The first trial running of a spoil train to Northfleet occurred on 27th April 2012, Class 66 No. 66729 arriving from Tonbridge with a rake of 26 empty JNA wagons. This was followed on Friday 11th May by the running of the first Westbourne Park to Northfleet spoil train – the rail link, however, was not officially opened until 21st June 2012. On this day, a special train of six BR Mk 1 carriages was run from Victoria, top and tailed by Class 66 No. 66744 and Electro-Diesel No. 73205 ‘’Jeanette’’. No. 66744 was formally named ‘’Crossrail’’ during a ceremony at the site, which was attended by the Thames Gateway Minister and officials from Lafarge, Network Rail, and Crossrail. GBRf has dedicated a pair of Class 66 locomotives and two 27-vehicle-strong rakes of JNA wagons to the Crossrail operation.

After arrival at Northfleet and loading onto ships, where does the spoil go to? In fact, not far. It is being used as part of a scheme by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to form a new 1,500 acre wetland nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex. This requires 10,000,000 tonnes of spoil, of which the Crossrail scheme is providing just under half. On completion of the Crossrail works at Northfleet, the wharf will again be used by Lafarge as a bulk aggregates import terminal, the rail connection and sidings being retained to dispatch these materials by train. In the longer term, much of the 104-acre site is planned for redevelopment into mixed residential and business use.


Thanks go to David Morgan for keeping the Webmaster up-to-date with affairs during construction of the new spur.

6th December 2011


A view from the North Kent Line towards Church Path Pit shows, in the immediate foreground, the CTRL sidings fanning out. The single-track enclosed on both sides by fencing is that leading to the former site of the cement works. By this time, the eastern tunnel had been unblocked and track continued through to the riverside. The cleared track bed on the left, curving under the footbridge, leads to the western tunnel. © David Glasspool


6th December 2011


Taken from the footbridge in the previous photograph, this is the western tunnel. This has also been unblocked recently, affording a continuous passage through to the former cement works site. © David Glasspool


6th December 2011


We are now on the Thames side of the chalk ridge, where a double-track can be seen emerging from the eastern tunnel portal. This soon widens to triple-track alongside the storage warehouse on the right. © David Glasspool



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