PLANS to extend Crossrail into Ebbsfleet would be a major boost to north Kent and Bexley, it has been claimed.
The £15 billion project will take passengers to and from Abbey Wood into Canary Wharf via Woolwich after its planned finish date in 2018.
But a proposal to extend this eastern spur of the line to meet up with the Eurostar terminal at Ebbsfleet would help commuters to Canary Wharf, travellers to Paris and Brussels and improve links to the planned £2 billion Paramount Park in Swanscombe, it has been argued.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson offered his support to the scheme when he agreed at Mayor’s Question Time on March 20 to lobby Chancellor George Osborne over the issue.
Bexley councillor and London Assembly member Gareth Bacon put the question to the Mayor, and says the extension would be of "great economic benefit" to the whole area.
He said: "It would help realise the 27,000 jobs that will come with the £2 billion investment in the Paramount Park development as well as linking the area to the M25 and the High Speed 1 interchange.
"I intend to continue to keep the pressure up so we can secure this vital piece of infrastructure for the area."
Other benefits would be a possible park and ride scheme into London for users of the nearby M25 and better access for Londoners to Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe.
Chris Hills, co-founder of the Alliance of Kent Commuters who commutes through the north Kent area daily on his way to London Canon Street, was sceptical of the plans.
The 32-year-old said: "It is an area that is already very well serviced.
"Maybe if funds could be invested elsewhere it would be more appropriate.
"Perhaps as a Kent person, I would say it would be better spent servicing the rest of Kent."
It is hoped Crossrail would reduce the current hour-long journey from Gravesend to Charing Cross.
North Kent Rail User Group member Jackie Davidson says the extension might as well go the whole way to the town.
He said: "Ebbsfleet’s in the middle of nowhere.
"It would just be a matter of running them into platforms five and six at Gravesend."
Gravesham MP Adam Holloway said "bring it on" to a full Gravesend extension but added: "If it did happen it would be wonderful.
"But last time I looked at it there wasn’t the money."
A spokeswoman for Boris Johnson said: "At present there are no plans to extend the operation of Crossrail beyond Abbey Wood.
"However, extending Crossrail beyond Abbey Wood is an integral part of the Mayor’s transport strategy and the route to Ebbsfleet has been safeguarded.
"Growth to the east of London would further support the case for this extension."
Plans for Paramount Park.
Current journey times
Higham to London Charing Cross: 1hr3mins
Gravesend to London Charing Cross: 58mins
Swanscombe to London Charing Cross: 52mins
Dartford to London Charing Cross: 44mins
Ebbsfleet International to Stratford International: 12mins