Boris’ way to go – not by tram

Mayor Boris Johnson’s new transport strategy has been unveiled.

As expected it has measures to support cycling and clear street clutter, both approaches long advocated by Liberal Democrats. I’ve been lobbying TfL to clear the clutter from their routes in Islington for years.

But it’s not all good news: and the strategy is attracting more controversy over what’s been left out, than what’s in there.

Several major transport projects have been dropped, including three tram links, the Thames Gateway Bridge, the Docklands Light Railway extension, and other projects in east London. This is a real break from the previous Mayor’s emphasis on investment in regenerating the Thames Gateway area.

The Thames Gateway Bridge has been a controversial proposal because it involves destroying the ancient Oxleas Wood. But that’s not the reason Boris gives for dropping it. Money is tight, and the Mayor is blaming lack of central Government investment for abandoning these schemes for now.

As I argued in the Guardian last week, at times of recession, the priorities for transport infrastructure projects should be that they fight climate change, benefit communities as well as passengers, and join up with other regeneration investment (like the Kings Cross bridge).

On that basis, I’m sorry to see that the Cross-River Tram has been dropped. Connections that get people across London are vital – that’s why Thameslink has been such a success and why Crossrail is attracting private investment. As my colleague Caroline Pidgeon points out, private investment should be investigated for other projects too. It’s ironic that a supposedly free-market Tory like Boris is relying on Labour government spending to decide which projects get to survive.

The Cross-River Tram would have linked up bits of south London not on the tube with the massive new developments around Kings Cross: a real missed opportunity if it doesn’t go ahead.

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3 Comments »

  1. As has been amply demonstrated with the Jubilee Line Extension, transport projects need not be a drain on the exchequor but create wealth and thus – potentially – tax revenues. But of course that means taxing differently.

    It is sad, but not surprising, to see that Boris buys into the beggar-thy-neighbour consensus.

  2. bridgetfox said

    There have also been successful funding packages for the DLR and the Heathrow Express, both with a mix of private sector and European Investment Bank support.

    With London’s population still growing, finding new routes to add capacity is essential: the Cross River Tram is an excellent example of a scheme to meet that need.

  3. […] Democrats ·Tagged Cross River Tram, Liberal Youth, London, students, transport I blogged before about the disappointing news that Boris Johnson has decided to drop plans for the Cross-River […]

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