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Gravesend to Grays tram a step closer following expert report

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 May 2019

The proposed Kenex cross-Thames tram system has been received positively by the government. Picture: Kenex Transit

The proposed Kenex cross-Thames tram system has been received positively by the government. Picture: Kenex Transit

Archant

Plans for a £600million tram tunnel under the Thames connecting Gravesend and Grays have received a boost following the results of a recent feasibility study.

The tram update event at Arriva's Northfleet garage was held on April 30. Picture: KenExThe tram update event at Arriva's Northfleet garage was held on April 30. Picture: KenEx

The project, known as KenEx, underwent a site visit last month to assess the fasibility of building a tunnel under the Thames at the proposed locations and the company has now announced the results of that visit were positive.

A team of international immersed tunnel experts from respected infrastructure company COWI confirmed the tunnel was possible and also highlighted a possible location for it.

A Kenex spokesman said: "The tunnel is a key element of the KenEx project and independent confirmation of the feasibility work undertaken to date on this element has been an important step forward."

Damian McGirr, a COWI director who visited the site, said the propsals were possible.

He added: "Ground conditions, environmental impact and navigational aspects will of course influence the specific details around tunnel construction.

"However, from our initial observations during the site visit recently, we would expect that these can be addressed by suitable planning, design and construction."

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"We consider that the proposal has great merit and is certainly feasible."

KenEx held an update on the tram project on April 30 at bus company Arriva's Northfleet garage.

Arriva has thrown its full support behind the project.

The plans were first announced in 2017 after three prospective tram lines were drawn up by Gordon Pratt from London and Southern Counties Railway Consortium as an alternative to the £6billion Lower Thames Crossing.

The first would be an immersed tunnel under the Thames which could connect Grays in Essex to Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe, with a number of stops within Ebbsfleet Garden city.

The two remaining lines would go from Grays to the proposed London Resort theme park in Swanscombe with the final line connecting the proposed theme park to its car park.

The business case also argues that a tram crossing between Gravesend and Grays will help reduce car traffic at the Dartford Crossing and as a result reduce pollution levels across the south east of England.

It is further argued that at £600million the estimated cost of the project is far less than the Lower Thames Crossing currently being built by the government, which is estimated to cost anywhere between £4.4 and £6.2billion.

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