Yesterday we were so bemused by the prolix perambulations in Boris’ Way To Go transport document that we neglected to consider the very real probability of significant cuts to long-planned transport schemes.
After the laughter, come the tears: today, in their 10-year business plan, TfL announced its aim to save £2.4 billion over the next decade by axing jobs and scrapping projects. The bloodbath of culled transport initiatives is a long, sad list, and includes the following:
Cross-river tram: no surprise there, but “increased capacity” on the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines are promised in mitigation.
The Thames Gateway Bridge: “disbenefits [sic] to traffic flow” and a £500m funding gap have done this one in.
DLR extension to Dagenham Docks: Queries over prioritisation of Barking Riverside housing development mean this is finished.
Oxford Street tram: “Unaffordable” and would create “substantial disruption”, though plans are afoot to “reduce bus volume” and help traffic along between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch.
TfL’s press release has the full list of ditched projects and
cheap excuses clear reasoned arguments behind the cuts. What’s interesting to note is that, Oxford Street aside, the main areas affected – Peckham, Barking, Croydon, Beckton, Thamesmead – are among the capital’s poorest and least connected areas. In addition, pedestrianised schemes for places such as Victoria Embankment and Parliament Square are dead in the water – again, no surprise on the latter.
So where’s all the money saved going? Crossrail, mainly, alongside extensions to the DLR, much-needed improvements to London Overground, new Underground stock (including those air-conditioned trains) and building a transport system that fully support the needs of the Olympics.
All important, no doubt. But the dismissal of so many significant projects, particularly Cross River Tram, which had enjoyed support under Ken Livingstone, is likely to cause consternation among those in the capital who question the new Mayor’s enthusiasm for and understanding of public transport needs. According to London SE1, Labour assembly members are already attacking the Mayor for what one describe, perhaps not without justification, as “the week in which London’s public transport progress ground to a halt”.