The new Transport for London business plan, published on Thursday, promises much for the next ten years:
The Programme will focus on the upgrade of the Tube, building Crossrail, extensions to the DLR and London Overground networks, supporting the 2012 Games and securing a legacy from them, smoothing traffic flows, leading a revolution in cycling and walking, and providing greater flexibility for London’s boroughs to deliver local transport solutions.
Buried in the small print at the bottom is the less positive part of the story – which is the part which affects us most directly. The cross-river tram, which might have come down Clapham Road, has been cancelled:
Cross River Tram (cost to complete £1.3bn):
Given the lack of funding available to implement the project and the likelihood of not securing additional third party funding, TfL is not in a position to develop the scheme any further.
However the Business Plan will deliver a number of transport improvements to the communities along the proposed routes including the increased capacity and more frequent services to come on the Northern, Victoria and Piccadilly lines.
TfL and the London Devlopment Agency will now look at alternatives to Cross River Tram including Northern line separation, improved bus operations and other ways of supporting local regeneration.
The tram always was a long shot, but it’s a shame that the prospect has disappeared altogether as it could have made a big contribution to easing transport pressures.
The opaquely named “Northern Line separation” offered as one of the alternatives is a scheme which would, in effect, permanently separate the Northern line into two lines – one from Morden through Stockwell, Kennington and the City to one of Edgware and High Barnet, and the other from Kennington through Charing Cross to the other of Edgware and High Barnet. That can’t happen soon – it depends on rebuilding Camden Town station to create more capacity for changing trains and is rather opaquely described in the new business plan as “Northern line upgrade – Part 2, completion date 2020”. If it ever happens, we would of course lose the direct connection to the Charing Cross branch from Stockwell and Oval, so it may not obviously look like a service improvement – but apparently not having to slot trains from the different branches behind each other on the same lines would allow overall train frequency to be increased by 20%.