5 February 2003
With the release of the Strategic Rail Authority’s Strategic Plan 2003, it is clear that there are not enough funds for long awaited rail projects in London.
It is crucial that Ken Livingstone’s claim to be leading the battle to save the capital’s railways is now backed with more money. With recent announcements on delays to the East London Line extension there have never been a more important time to improve existing services. Hackney would benefit from more cash for services through north London to Richmond and east through Stratford to Woolwich if the budget changes go through.
During the current TfL budget negotiations, Ian Brown, Head of Rail Services, requested £5 million for real improvements to the North London Line and instead has been allocated £1 million for studies and pilots. The £1 million is matched by the SRA, but this still falls far short of what is needed.
In contrast, the money originally requested by Rail Service would have been used for:
• more trains that would rapidly improve existing services
• platform lengthening for the later introduction of longer trains to increase capacity
Victor Anderson said, “The smaller scale improvements are cost effective and make a big difference to people’s lives. The appalling situation of funding from the SRA makes TfL’s contribution all the more critical. It is simply not good enough for Ken to claim to be supporting rail services, yet not use all his power to deliver on that promise.”
Suggested improvements would also contribute to the realisation of Orbirail - a circular rail system for London that would reduce the need to travel through the over-crowded central area. Not only will this be more pleasant for rail travellers, but will encourage people to use public transport. TfL recognise that the highest growth in car use in London is from orbital trips.
Victor Anderson warns, “It is particularly crucial to make these small scale improvements at a time when progress has stalled on larger more ambitious projects such as Thameslink and Crossrail. There is money available by shifting funds from road improvement schemes. Schemes that continue the vicious circle of encouraging car use at the cost of our health.”
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