Mayor Boris launches £1.3 trillion infrastructure plan

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has begun consulting on a £200 billion transport plan, part of a wider £1.3 trillion London Infrastructure Plan to meet a projected 70% required increase in public transport capacity.

The rail and Tube networks are expected to play the leading role in delivering the plans, which include extending the Bakerloo Line and creating another orbital railway. 

“London’s needs are stark,” said Johnson in his foreword to the plan’s consultation document, on which he has invited the capital’s residents and businesses to respond. 

“For Londoners to get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life they require and expect, our city must have continued investment,” he added.

Despite his ambitions to re-enter Parliament (he recently said he will look for a parliamentary seat for next year’s General Election), Johnson has begun to lay the groundwork for his successors, by outlining wide-ranging proposals for how London’s transport and infrastructure could be improved. His plan covers the years up to 2050, with a specific section devoted to transport.

A new zone 3 orbital railway (the ‘R25’), extending beyond and developing the existing London Overground network, would provide an additional fast orbital rail service linking boroughs in the inner suburbs, from Walthamstow Queen’s Road in the north of the capital (using the Barking-Gospel Oak line) to Abbey Wood in the southeast, Sutton in the southwest and Hounslow in the west. 

It would also make use of the former Dudding Hill branch (otherwise used only for freight and empty stock moves), as well as other underused railway infrastructure, and require new tunnelling in places.

Also included in the consultation is a southern extension of the Bakerloo Line beyond Elephant & Castle.

It says extending the line will enable regeneration in southeast London, from Old Kent Road to Catford, as well as supporting development in outer London locations. 

Capacity would also be released on national rail lines, improving rail services into London Bridge and supporting wider improvements south of the River Thames.

“The scheme has a benefit:cost ratio of 3:1, and would also generate significant wider economic benefits through improving access to central London,” the document says.

Potential routes could take in Old Kent Road (via Camberwell) to Lewisham, Catford, Beckenham and Bromley, or an alternative via Old Kent Road and Lewisham to Hayes and Beckenham Junction, which would provide for an interchange with the Croydon Tramlink light rail network.

The latter option could benefit from a peak service frequency of 27 trains per hour as far as Catford Bridge, with 15 trains per hour to Hayes and six per hour to Beckenham Junction. 

However, with 2040 pencilled in as a likely completion date, and a price tag of £2.2 billion to £2.6bn, it is evident that schemes such as Crossrail 2 (on which Transport for London is already consulting) will be taken forward first.  

“If HS2 gets there before Crossrail 2, there will be an awful lot of people walking around because they won’t be able to get on the Tube,” said London Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy.

Johnson said that Crossrail 2, which would link Wimbledon with Hackney (via a new alignment under central London and further beyond both the southwestern and northeastern suburbs), needed to be approved “as a matter of urgency”. The arrival of HS2 at Euston station means that planning for its arrival is essential.

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