Good News and Bad News for the Tram
Hillingdon say no but transport users' group say yes
There has been mixed news for the controversial West London Tram project recently. Hillingdon Council have now formally come out against the project. With Hammersmith and Fulham Council also in opposition that leaves Ealing Council as the only local authority on the route backing the project.
However there was better news from London TravelWatch which is a group which represents passengers' interests on local public transport. They have given their backing to the tram though with some reservations.
London TravelWatch said that various issues and concerns need addressing in order for to get the public support essential to its success. They held a recent public meeting in Ealing before deciding whether or not to support the scheme
Brian Cooke, Chairman, London TravelWatch, said, “The discussion was extremely lively – it’s clearly a scheme which has the capacity to excite real passion, and we had a very good, rigorous debate.”
A significant majority of London TravelWatch board members voted to maintain the ‘in-principle’ support, but there were various issues that were a matter of concern. Opponents of the tram have dismissed the group's announcement as irrelevant pointing out that only one of the board's 21 members lives on the tram route with most of them resident outside the West London area.
Brian Cooke said that the board members were persuaded that the traffic demands trends and forecasts meant the ‘do-nothing’ approach would be intolerable. However, they believe it is essential for TfL to seriously consider modifying the scheme to enable it to serve the White City development, Ealing Broadway station, Ealing hospital and the area south of Southall High St (including the gasworks site) better than is currently envisaged.
The group alo thought more convincing plans for mitigating potential traffic congestion at critical ‘pinch-points’ on the route, such as Shepherd’s Bush Green, Acton High St, Ealing Broadway and Southall High Street.
In addition they wanted TfL to demonstrate how the funding arrangements for the West London Tram scheme will shield the project from the financial difficulties which have beset tram schemes elsewhere in Britain.
London TravelWatch is the new operating name for the London Transport Users Committee. They are the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, and independent of the transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority
February 2, 2006