After years of campaigning (see The Bugle, Feb 2009 with Martin Linton’s long stand), projects and postponing, the London Mayor and the Government eventually agreed on the funding for the go ahead of the phase 2 of the East London Line extension, running from Clapham Junction to Docklands (click on map on the left to see it bigger). Work on phase 1 (link between Highbury and Croydon) is due to open next year. Work on phase 2 will begin in 3 months and is due to finish in May 2012 (i.e. before the 2012 Olympics).
This is a great news for all residents of South London.
However, not wanting to sound too negative in the over-joyed atmosphere, I cannot prevent myself to wonder about the cost of this project (£75 millions, with £30 millions split between TfL and the GLA), compared to the £1.2 billion spent for phase 1 (and compared to the £3.5 billion project of the Jubilee Line extension). In phase 2 of the extension project, only a 2.5 km (1.5 mi) link is planned from south of Surrey Quays to the Network Rail South London Line to Clapham Junction. The rest of the route will be on a disused alignment which until 1911 was used by trains from Rotherhithe to Peckham via the now defunct Old Kent Road station. In the current scheme, trains are meant to pass very close to Brixton Tube station, but not stopping as they will use the old rails and no investment is planned to link with the Victoria line!
Additionally, according to TfL’s website, by February 2011, 16 trains will run every hour in each direction through the centre section. In The Bugle, I read that only 4 trains an hour will go from Platform 2 (they will arrive on Platform 1). There are trains every few minutes from Clapham Junction to Waterloo or Victoria stations currently…
Anyway, it will undoubtedly means more investment South of the River, especially in Clapham Junction. Transport Secretary Mr Hoon said: “I am pleased to announce an additional £64 million for TfL which will allow them to press ahead with the further extension of the East London Line to Clapham Junction and deliver a number of other transport improvements in London“. Principal director of the South-east London Chamber of Commerce Stephen Nelson, said: “This will encourage investment in local business.”
Currently, Metro Shopping Fund is proposing a destruction of hundreds of jobs in the area and Network Rail is suggesting that “with the limited funds that are available to the railway industry there is no guarantee that Clapham Junction will be anymore successful [to get funding in the future]. We therefore need the Metro scheme to deliver the major improvements to the station ” (in letter addressed to the Council).
Shall we think that Wandsworth and Britain’s busiest station are not a priority for London authorities and therefore are not worth any proper investment?
And by the way, do you think that we need, as a top priority, 500 more flats in high tower blocks just beside the station, or take advantage of the privileged location to welcome businesses?