25 APRIL 2022


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Article from BTNews 25 APRIL 2022

COMMENT: TfL and London City Airport *

Bank Station is nearly ready.  The vastly over budget Elizabeth Line is supposedly imminent. 

What will make the headlines when Crossrail eventually opens?  Will the press report on the dark side, the cost, and the politically motivated lack of a station at Silvertown for London City Airport (LCY).

On the plus side users of the airport via the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), particularly those coming from the northern and western suburbs, will be pleased to learn that the re-building of Bank Station is on time with test trains now running through the new Northern Line platform.  No opening date is announced yet for the suspended Moorgate – Kennington section (including Bank), but mid-May has been suggested.

When completed Bank Station will have numerous entrances all connected to the DLR including those around the Mansion House complex, Monument, and a new entrance at Cannon Street.  An alternative is the DLR Tower Gateway terminal, a three-minute walk from the Underground station Tower Hill. Passengers from here should get off at the first station (Shadwell – which is also a connection to the London Overground) for a LCY train.

But sad to say there is no news on any possibility of a Silvertown/London City station, which the Elizabeth Line passes using essentially the same tracks as the old North London Line, closed in 2008.  There are large panels in place to stop travellers seeing the airport.  How embarrassing for Transport for London!

The Elizabeth Line will be a fine railway, but not achieving a key element of its concept, linking LCY to Heathrow.  Or for that matter regenerating rundown Silvertown.  There is no station between Custom House and Woolwich Arsenal.

Said to be London’s most important international gateway, after Heathrow, the airport has never been visited by the present Mayor in his official capacity, although successive transport ministers have called in when the opportunity has arisen.  (See BTN 22 February)

For the record, the lengthening of the DLR to London City and Woolwich was opposed by the then incumbent Ken Livingstone, who had the good grace to appreciate the airport’s great value to London, and officially opened the extension.

This was not the case with his successor, our present Prime Minister, and his lackey Daniel (now Lord) Moylan.  Plans for a LCY station were ditched as the pair pushed ahead, expensively, without consulting London taxpayers, on their Thames Estuary scheme.  LCY was a conflict.  Moylan when asked about the airport station, retorted “over my dead body”.  The Prime Minister said something similar regarding Heathrow.

Even now the station platforms could be built for £30m in just six months with the trains turning around at ExCeL.  Woolwich residents could hardly complain with a short further delay.  They still have the DLR.  It would be a real shot in the arm for the airport putting central London even more on the European map and offering vast potential.

Use the Elizabeth Line to LCY as best as you can.  It will be far less arduous, in spite of the improvements, than Bank. Getting from the airport to ExCeL is not simple.

There are several ways.  Take the train to Canary Wharf and stroll to Popular DLR station.  This will take six minutes as the connecting bridge has never been built.  Or you can stay on the train to Custom House (ExCeL) and either grab a taxi (five minutes and £10), or alternatively walk ten minutes along Victoria Dock Road to Prince Regent Lane to catch a bus, the local 473 which does not serve Custom House.  Alternatively stay on the train to Woolwich Arsenal, grimace as you pass the airport, and take the DLR back.

And why no campaign by LCY, the management in recent times stating a case for the station?

Clearly too many other problems to sort out!  

The new taxiway and apron extension taking priority with the installed airport Chairman, Sir Terry Morgan, also Chairman of Crossrail, focussing on the late running project.  He resigned from both positions.  Morgan’s namesake had been CEO of Stansted Airport.  Was there confusion at the time of Morgan’s appointment?

Will Silvertown and LCY ever gain an Elizabeth Line station?  It can still be achieved very quickly but it will take a brave politician to make a move. 

Do take a look at the Poplar interchange for Canary Wharf.  Why no completed access between the two stations?! See BTN 31 January Elizabeth Line – One station to go.

The present Mayor should visit Silvertown and LCY and see for himself.  And of course trains passing the airport and not stopping will make for good headlines when the line does eventually open.

The Elizabeth Line will be a success, but it can still be improved upon!  Better now than later.

LONDON CITY AIRPORT – 30 Years Serving the Capital
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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

Jason Whitaker, UK/Shepperton

Thank you Malcolm for excellent comments about an idea that as you say needs to be taken forward Very Soon. Come on London City airport, TFL & the London Mayor: Get Silvertown/London City airport station built ASAP!

Andrew Sharp, St Albans

It's certainly not too late for anything to be done, Jill. Not far away, a new station was retrofitted into the DLR at Langdon Park. Southend Airport station was built on an existing very busy commuter railway. There's space: there just needs the will to do it!

Jeff Singer, Hampstead London

It is not too late for a station. Better now than a £1bn project at some time in the future. And what is the position with the New York flights I used from time to time? We are told the A220 can easily make it non stop with 50 business class seats.

Jill Roberts, West London

Whilst I agree with the sentiments of this COMMENT it is now too late for anything to be done.

John Hope, Hammersmith

I went to a one women show (with a fine backing group) in London last night where the performer came out with a tirade of anti-Johnson comment at the finale. Not a titter of complaints from the audience!