Real cost of tram will be billions say SES
Group say no plans have been made to meet running costs
The real cost of the controversial tram scheme will run into billions, anti-tram campaigners have warned. The figure of £648 million given by Transport for London will cover only start-up costs. Running costs will amount to £76 million a year.
Transport for London estimates that only £28 million of this £76 million will be covered by fares. "The balance of £48 million will have to come from somewhere else," says Tracy Evans of the pressure group Save Ealing's Streets. "Where is this money going to come from? This is one of many questions that remains unanswered by TfL."
The start-up cost of £648 million will cover the trams and the installation of tracks and services needed to run it. Annual running costs, projected for 30 years, will include the cost of operating and maintaining the tram scheme (£19 million) and renewing trams (£2 million). But more than half the money needed (£39.6 million a year) will be spent on paying back the money borrowed to finance the scheme according to SES.
"This is a ludicrous way to spend public money," says Mrs Evans. "The cost is inflated by extortionate rates of interest and it's difficult to see how the people of West London will benefit. How can people in this area possibly be better off with a scheme that closes the Uxbridge Road at pinch-points and forces traffic to spread on to surrounding streets?
"To spend vast amounts of public money on a scheme that brings the area to a standstill - and the tram would - is madness. Improving the bus service between Uxbridge and Shepherd's Bush would cost only £20 million in total. That would make much more sense."
SES is organising a public protest and march at Haven Green, Ealing Broadway, on Saturday July 3 from 10.30am. Soapbox orators will have the chance to tell TfL and Ealing Council why they believe the scheme is not right for West London. TfL plans to close the Uxbridge Road at Acton and West Ealing, and to partially close it at Shepherd's Bush and Ealing Broadway to accommodate the tram.
"This could be the last opportunity for local people to show their opposition to the tram in public," says Mrs Evans. "We hope that by the time people fill in their consultation forms they will understand the implications of this scheme for everybody in West London, and that they should not accept it."
June 21, 2004