Struggling in the polls he may be, but Ken Livingstone has got a cunning plan: a plan for trams.
On a campaign visit to Wood Green earlier this week, the Labour candidate spoke of his desire to re-introduce trams to the streets of north London. Recognising that moving laterally between the capital’s suburbs often requires a trip into the centre and back out again, he suggested that a series of routes running between Ealing, Wembley, and Wood Green would be a good solution.
Livingstone’s fondness for the tram is well documented. As Mayor he pushed forward a Cross-River Tram between King’s Cross and Peckham, one of the first transport projects axed by Boris, and something that would be re-started under a third Livingstone term. He also sought to bring a service called the West London Tram, modelled on Croydon Tramlink, to Ealing, but the plan collapsed in 2007 following local protests. In fact, the former Mayor’s apparently insatiable thirst for the trolleycar extended to a quixotic (and utterly charming if improbable) plan to ban cars from Oxford Street and replace them with…. yep, trams. And all this time we thought the newt was his first love.
What does Ken’s one-size-fits-all approach to transport problems mean for his re-election chances? Not much. His campaign is focused on attacking Boris Johnson over failures on the Tube network, with the perception being that this is one of the incumbent’s few weak points. Yet as we discovered earlier this week, it doesn’t seem to be gelling in the mind of your average voter. Pie-in-the-sky tram projects will thrill transport infrastructure geeks and may tempt a few ballot box dilemmas in the outer boroughs but it’s not really an effective platform from which to mount a plausible comeback.