15 JULY 2019


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Article from BTNews 15 JULY 2019

COMMENT: A new transport minister – First task?

Within weeks a new transport minister will be appointed. What is his/her first task?

Heathrow is on its way, and HS2 likewise. The rail franchises will need to be looked into. But the most important of all the things that need sorting out is Crossrail, conceived as the new artery of London.

The spat between the mayor of London and the London Assembly Transport Committee continues, with no Elizabeth Line opening date promised. Meanwhile, London City Airport has published its “Draft Master Plan 2020-2035”, just as vital in many ways for the future of London. The minister should look at this as well.

The plan acknowledges airport senior management's belief that a Silvertown for London City station could be possible if at some stage in the future Crossrail is extended to Ebbsfleet. The railway, and with it the station, is wishful thinking!

The proposed Ebbsfleet line achieves very little and replicates the existing tracks. Crossrail 2 will take precedence.

In the view of BTN (and rail experts), the upgrading of the existing Southeastern two-track operation with two different electrification systems is not likely to happen. It would be very, very expensive. The introduction of a new LCY station on an operating Elizabeth Line would be disruptive and likewise extremely costly.

London City Airport should be much more positive in asking for an urgent review of the situation with a view to building the station now.

Who knows when Crossrail will open? The London Assembly Transport Committee, now under Florence Eshalomi (former chair Caroline Pidgeon is now the deputy), is in a tiff with the mayor following his detailed response in a joint letter with Transport for London (TfL), agreeing with most of the points made within the report. Most notably, he reiterated his support for TfL’s commissioner, Mike Brown.

In response, Eshalomi said: “It’s disappointing to see that blame for the project is still being passed from pillar to post and that no stakeholder so far has been willing to accept their responsibility for the delay of the project”.

The mayor in the letter talks about reporting back in six months’ time. Is he going to give us the date?

With a possible new prime minister who was previously mayor of London, the final say on the future of the Elizabeth Line should now be the responsibility of the Department for Transport. The government is putting up half the cost. The line is vital for London and with it the country. The Silvertown for London City Airport station needs to be examined urgently, not just for LCY, but the whole area surrounding the Tate and Lyle refinery where massive redevelopment is taking place.

The station can be built, quickly and cheaply. The enormous benefits will quickly outweigh any possible slight further delay on the Canary Wharf to Abbey Wood section. Action is needed. Now!

(See also COMMENT PLUS in this issue).

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

John Stobart, London

With offices in Bond Street Elizabeth Line to London City in less than 30 minutes would be perfect. It is a tiring one hour at the moment!