A New Vision for Thames Connectivity

KenEx Tram


Gordon Pratt MD

We, at Thames Gateway Tramlink, are very proud to be working on the KenEx Tram proposal. This exciting new project will provide an accessible, sustainable, public transport link between North Kent and South Essex, generating significant economic benefits to the area whilst also tackling increasing levels of road congestion. Furthermore, the project supports the increasing pressure for sustainable “Net Zero” transport solutions to combat pollution levels.

Enhanced Connectivity, Local Economic Growth and Quality of Life.

Why are we looking at this scheme?

The first question we are asked is “Why a tram?”  and the second is “Why at this location in the Thames Estuary?

Crossings along this part of the River Thames have always been important. Ferries have provided a local link for people for hundreds of years and a ferry still operates today.

Congested Dartford Crossing

The Dartford Tunnel opened in 1963 to provide crossing facilities for motor vehicles and a bicycle transfer service. The QE II Bridge opened in 1991 to provide additional road capacity.

Unfortunately, the Dartford Crossing is now often heavily congested and forms a major contributor to poor air quality in the local area.

Surveys support the need for an efficient local transport solution to enable the movement of people for work, education, health and leisure.

We have identified the cross-river transport need together with health benefits for local communities and benefits to the local economy.

A tram solution meets the expected current and increasing demand from the local area with an environmentally sound solution that helps towards a goal of “Net Zero” emissions.

The tramway is necessary to provide the high level of public transport necessary to support the developing city core of Ebbsfleet. Residential developments are being provided with 1 car parking space for every 2 properties making them highly public transport dependent and, for example, just 2 developments have around 7,000 city homes.

Left:  The developing Ebbsfleet residential city core seen from Grays beach. A connection to Grays and its transport is key for the movement of people and for a healthy local economy.

The cross river KenEx tram connection and the Ebbsfleet southern rail link (Part of the Kent County Council rail strategy) are seen as vital elements allowing people to move and for the local economy to thrive.

What is being proposed?

Over two hundred new tram systems have opened worldwide over the past nineteen years.  The KenEx project benefits from the significant developments and technological advancements made by the industry since the turn of the Century. 

Furthermore, it is acknowledged that a major passenger flow is across the river to Grays and Thurrock for employment.

Having established demand and an outline business case, one core route has been determined, covering a distance of around 18km. Key to the proposal is a 1.2km immersed tunnel.

This provides a transport solution for local people who have no access to a car, cannot drive or who prefer to use a sustainable means of transport.

There is currently very little provision to meet this important demand within the Thames Estuary Metropolitan Area.

Network Proposal

kenex tram route proposal 2024

The proposed routes connect the developing, city density core of Ebbsfleet with other transport hubs, employment areas and other destinations. The routes provide interchange with both Fastrack and the proposed Ebbsfleet southern rail link, between them  establishing a sufficiently high level of public transport to support the developing core.

Infrastructure programmes bring jobs, and it’s vital the population hears about those opportunities quickly. That means advertising the new roles and apprenticeships which will be available during the construction of the Metro. To spread the benefits of a project like this, you must help local businesses bid to be part of the project. These activities help the public see the benefits long before the first trams are on the rails, and ensures local people feel they are invested in the network.

Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands and former MD of John Lewis March 2019

How is this being progressed?

The Thames Gateway Tramlink project has benefited from the support of successful local businesspeople, facilitating planning and a full business case for the project. Having taken the initial risk, the Company provides an attractive investment package for major investors and developers interested in taking the project forward.

The project has support from Leaders of Local Councils and businesses who see the tram as an important solution to local needs.

In reality, much of the project plans to utilise existing cutting edge light rail technology, including an exciting new immersed tunnel under the River Thames.

The scheme draws on proven immersed tunnel technology for the short central tunnel section which is effectively the “unique selling point” of the project.

Visits were undertaken by the specialist team at COWI (immersed tunnel specialists) to establish the feasibility of the tunnel.

After the site visits COWI commented: “We consider that the proposal has great merit and is certainly feasible”.

The Future

KenEx Tram is set within the heart of a regeneration area – Thames Estuary 2050. KenEx is offering an alternative future proof way of connectivity, scaleable to meet demand without impacting the environment or adding further congestion to local roads.

Adding value, offering resilience and diversity to existing rail infrastructure on either side of the river Thames.

Your Input

While actual construction designs and site details are not due for some time yet, right now your feedback can help evolve our concepts to better cater for your needs.

If you can spare a few moments, why not get in touch with us so we can better understand your needs! Contact us here or complete our online survey here