Boris scraps £1.3b Cross River Tram

By Paul Bentley

tram-rik-dom1Hopes for a £1.3billion tram scheme connecting Peckham and Brixton to North London were shattered this week with the announcement that Boris Johnson has scrapped the project.

The Cross River Tram (CRT) was planned to run from South London through Waterloo to Camden Town and King’s Cross in North London and was projected to carry 9,000 people per hour in both directions in peak periods.

The project was introduced as part of the 2004 Transport for London (TfL) business plan and was due to be completed in 2017. 

boris-johnson-sign-square1But this week the London Mayor published his 10-year Transport Plan for London, clarifying that “TfL is not in a position to develop the [CRT] scheme any further.”

In an introduction to the transport plan, the Mayor wrote: “[The money] we are due to spend on [the CRTs] development would be better spent on improving existing public transport capacity.” He suggested capacity increases on the Northern line as a feasible alternative to the CRT.

The CRT was supported by campaigners across the capital. North Southwark and Bermondsey MP Simon Hughes had backed the plan in the House of Commons, submitting an Early Day Motion on 27 October stating that the House “ believes that the Cross River Tram is a crucial piece of transport infrastructure [and] notes the vital strategic importance of the tram to the regeneration of some of London’s most deprived areas.” Twenty four MPs signed the motion.

The Cross River Partnership (CRP) is a group committed to bridging the physical and social divisions between South and North London. They conceived the Cross River Tram concept and deem the CRT “the very raison d’être of our organisation.”

Sarah Walters, Assistant Director of the CRP said: “We are disappointed with the Mayor’s comments but we’ll be working with him to look for alternatives to the CRT.”

According to the CRP, the tram was projected to bring £7billion of regeneration to the areas serviced by the line. Some businesses in South London have reacted with disappointment to the announcement. Rebecca Bines, manager of Southwark’s Peckham Pulse Gym, said: “It’s a shame the tram won’t be built. It would have made more people move to Peckham, which would have been great for us.”

Commuters in Peckham gave varying opinions about Johnson’s decision to scrap the tram this week. Oliver Stevens-Neck, a 22-year-old who lives near Peckham High Street but whose parents live in Muswell Hill, North London, said: “I’m furious. The tram would’ve been a godsend for me. Transport round here is awful and at the moment it takes me hours to get to my parents’ house.”

But Godwin Addetokunbo, a 41-year-old Peckham resident said that whilst he agreed with the environmental benefits of a tram, he thought it was not worth the upheaval the work would have caused. “I don’t think it would have worked anyway. It’s already so packed here. What infrastructure would they have knocked down to build it?”

Johnson asked for people not to focus on the projects that were not chosen: “These projects are the tip of a very large iceberg. We will be delivering Crossrail, Tube upgrades, air-conditioning, a cycle hire scheme and much more to give London a truly world-class transport system.”


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