Five proposals to speed up public transport connecting south east London and north Kent have been tabled, including extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet and a new rapid bus service.

The C2E Partnership, which includes Dartford and Bexley councils, has launched a consultation on the proposals for improved, fast public transport services connecting Ebbsfleet, Dartford, Slade Green, Erith and Belvedere.

The plans include three options to extend the Elizabeth Line from its current planned terminus at Abbey Wood towards Dartford, as well as an rail service improvement and a proposal for a new bus rapid transit.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, leader of Bexley Council and chairman of the C2E Partnership, commented: "This is a really important opportunity for residents and businesses to give their views on how important improved public transport links are to them.

"While there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment on the future of public transport, we know that better links will be fundamental to our plans to bring forward new high-quality homes and jobs which can be accessed in safe, sustainable ways.

“By responding to this consultation, residents and businesses can demonstrate to Government how important new public transport links are to the future of this area”

The partnership behind the plans is formed of the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, Bexley Council, Dartford Council, Gravesham Council, Kent County Council, the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation.

The C2E group say that with the current rail and bus links, journey times both within the area and to central London and other parts of Kent can be slow and unreliable.

The opening of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) will provide fast, frequent services direct to Canary Wharf, central London and Heathrow, but will terminate at Abbey Wood, and connections east of here would make the most of the new line, supporting new homes, improving access to jobs and more.

Local authorities in the area have long sought to improve public transport to improve the quality of life for residents, and despite the current pandemic, they are still trying to plan ahead to make sure the local area is well placed to lead a future economic recovery.

The first three options all describe an extension of Crossrail between Abbey Wood, Dartford and Northfleet, with three potential different train operators (TfL, SouthEastern and Thameslink).

Option Four includes improvements to existing rail services connecting the Elizabeth Line at Abbey Wood, whilst the fifth dictates a new bus rapid transit, building on the Fastrack network from Dartford to Ebbsfleet and Gravesham.

Cllr Jeremy Kite, Leader of Dartford Borough Council added that the C2E Partnership are at a stage where they would like to know residents' views about the five potential options.

“By giving their views, residents can influence which options are taken forward for further development. So I encourage everyone to have their say by visiting the consultation link before it closes in February.”

If you would like to submit your views on these options, please complete the survey before 28th February 2021.

There will be a further opportunity to submit views later in 2021, when the number of options under consideration will have reduced and further detail is available on each option.