London is well accustomed to the old North/South debate. In times fortunately gone by, the question of on which side of the river you resided was up with whether you eat peas off your knife in terms of social significance. It seems however that recently there is something of an East/West issue as well.
According to our man at Wandsworth town hall, those spoiled westerners of Acton and beyond have been offered a viable and trendy £650,000,000.00 transport scheme, and petulantly turned it down. Meanwhile, the deprived but terribly eager (south) easterners have a train line extension planned and plotted with insufficient spondulicks to fund it. That is to say that with the West London tram scheme effectively dropped by Mayor Livingstone, supporters of the East London line extension (phase 2 – connecting Clapham with Peckham and Surrey Quays, and thence to the East and the North) have their beady eyes on all the cash that has been saved:
Transport for London had already set aside the money for the tram. Now this is not going ahead what better way for the Mayor to show his support for south London than to earmark a small part of the cash for the East London Line extension?
Londonist is certainly in favour of connecting the remote outposts of the south east with the commercial heart of the capital. The ultimate aim of TfL to have a viable rail orbital route is sensible, admirable even.
But this story is not all that it seems. The money for the tram scheme is not actually sitting under Ken’s bed, but rather has yet to be formally sought. (Although this Londonista does sympathise with the idea of re-allocating money that wasn’t there in the first place – it works just dandy with shoes and handbags.)
Public/private partnership was always going to be the most likely resource.
And furthermore, it’s not over ‘til the fat civil servant sings. Just because a project has apparently been dropped, it doesn’t mean that you have seen the back of it. The tram is still very much a living, breathing portfolio at TfL towers….
Image taken from Homemade's Flickr photostream.