Transport for London is about to publish a seven-year investment plan that includes not a penny for the tram extensions promised in the London election campaign earlier this year by Mayor Boris Johnson and Steve O’Connell, the Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton.
“Boris Johnson has taken the people of Croydon for a ride. But it’s not on the tram and it’s not going to Crystal Palace,” Tony Newman, the leader of the Croydon’s opposition Labour group, said.
Ken Livingstone had planned for a tram extension through to Crystal Palace when he was Mayor of London. But the scheme was scrapped by Johnson when he was first elected in 2008.
This year, Johnson was again promising a £200 million tram extension scheme in an effort to win the support of south Londoners.
Even in mid-summer, after his re-election, Johnson was back in Croydon town centre, posing with O’Connell in front of a tram with “Crystal Palace” emblazoned on its destination board, and saying, “It’s vital for a place like Croydon that’s got massive economic potential to invest in transport infrastructure. This is the key to unlocking the success of the borough.”
O’Connell also sought votes by promising to deliver another extension, through to Sutton.
In the fresh flush of being re-elected to City Hall, O’Connell was boasting of regeneration benefits to St Helier of a tram extension, as well as easing journey times and creating new jobs. “I think it was important as early as possible to pin the Mayor down and remind him of his commitment,” O’Connell said.
But officials from TfL – who do not need to con people into voting for them – have been warning all year that there was not enough cash available to deliver the extension.
“Future extensions are not currently funded in TfL’s Business Plan,” one official stated in January, adding that the extension “could only progress if additional funding was made available”. The publication of the latest TfL plan shows that Johnson has failed to make that cash available.
Tramlink has been acclaimed as a public transport success since its introduction in 2000. Utilising a number of disused former railway track east-west routes across south London, the 17-mile network carries more than 70,000 passengers each day.
TfL will be spending some money at Fiveways, the junction between Waddon, Wallington and the Purley Way, a place of misery for motorists, pedestrians and other road users on a daily basis. Johnson is regularly criticised for spending his transport budget on schemes that benefit the car driver at the expense of other road users. The attempt to untangle the busy Croydon junction – through road widening?- is one of eight schemes around the capital on which £300 million has been allocated.
When asked what the works at Fiveways might involve, Croydon Council’s lead councillor on development, Vidhi Mohan, did not know any details.
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- Mayor’s £300m to boost development (standard.co.uk)