Fawkham Junction

 

The history of the original ''Fawkham Junction'' can be found on the Gravesend West page

 

The original Fawkham Junction for Gravesend West survived beyond the life of the whole branch line, which closed totally to the remaining freight services bound for the Thames Estuary town on 24th March 1968. The junction from the main ''Chatham'' line, however, was left in situ due to a short section of the branch being retained for rail access to a coal bunker at Southfleet. The Fawkham rail connection was no longer required by 1976, but the track was left in place for over two decades, only to be lifted when work began to transform part of the former branch in connection with the Channel Tunnel.

On 28th September 1998 it was announced that Railtrack shareholders had voted overwhelmingly to support a deal made between the company, Union Railways and the ''Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions'' (DETR). As part of the agreement, Union Railways would build a new link line between the ''Chatham'' main line at Fawkham (Longfield) and the Chunnel portal, then subsequently sell it on to Railtrack when it was finished in 2003. Union Railways was to receive Government assistance in raising the finance for the line, it being unable to do this alone. The first signs of building work in connection with this link line began on 5th October 1998. The new route would form an integral part of the confirmed international route from North London, under the Thames and via the to-be-christened ''Ebbsfleet'', which partly explains the initial circuitous path it takes before assuming a south easterly heading into Kent. Of course, the prospect of re-using an existing railway bed originally built for double track also played a major part in the decision making for where to put the line. On leaving the ''Chatham'' line at Fawkham (or Longfield, as the parish is known), the line proceeds north east and continues in this direction beyond Southfleet. It then begins curving approximately half a mile from the A2 trunk road, the other side of which is the back of Gravesend, and then assumes a south easterly heading parallel with it, the point at which the line from Ebbsfleet joins. The first services between Fawkham and Ashford ran on 28th September 2003, although the line through Ebbsfleet was not scheduled for completion until 2007. Previously, on 30th July of the same year, a test run with a Trans Manche Super Train over ''Section One'' saw a new all-time British railway speed record reached: 208 MPH. Until then, the highest British speed record on rails was held by the Advanced Passenger Train, this having reached 162.2 MPH in 1979. A slower test run had taken place on 8th July.

The 13th November 2007 marked the final day of scheduled passenger operation over the purpose-built connecting line between Fawkham and Southfleet Junctions; thereafter, services were routed onto ''Section 2'' of the CTRL, running from St Pancras and via Ebbsfleet International. With the complete closure of Waterloo International, the Class 373 formations no longer venture onto the third rail network, thus all sets are witnessing the removal of their shoe gear which, reportedly, will reduce the costs of maintenance. The Fawkham to Southfleet link line now faces an uncertain future; since Channel Tunnel freight is already comfortably accommodated on the route via Maidstone East, uses for the spur are hard to come by. This is compounded by the fact that the Class 92 fleet is not yet compatible with the CTRL's signalling system.

 


 

                

Drawn by David Glasspool

          


 

A France-bound Eurostar is seen coming off the junction (that being hidden behind the trees in

the background) on 10th August 2005. Behind the formation is the former track bed of the

Gravesend West branch. A new track bed was laid parallel with it in order to slew the curve from

Fawkham Junction, to avoid a turn which was too tight. David Glasspool

 


 

The double-track spur is seen curving away sharply from the ''Chatham'' main line on 22nd

September 2005. David Glasspool

 


 

Drawn by David Glasspool

 


 

Next >>

 


Return to the Kent Rail Homepage or alternatively, check for Updates.

Website & Copyright information - Links - Contact the Webmaster


 

All content is copyright David Glasspool