Campaigner says no to 'light railway on the streets'

"a monument to Ken, and a monumental disaster for ... the area"

Related Links

Is the West London Tram a 'done deal'?

Harvey Rose Calls for Proper Consultation on Tram

Report Calls Tram Plans into Question

Save Shepherds Bush Streets

An artist's impression of the tram

No Decision on Tram until late 2004

Transport for London's West London Tram page

Save Ealing Street web site

The Case for the Tram

Southfield Lib Dems


Contact details of key figures:
Tim Jones, Project Director, West London Tram Project, 3rd Floor South Wing, Parnell House, 25 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1LW (email:

First of all, may I clear up any misconceptions people might have about Ken Livingstone’s plans for a tramway on the Uxbridge Road between Uxbridge and Shepherd’s Bush. These trams would not be the double-decker buses on tracks that were taken out of service in the 1950’s. These would be 40 metres long and carry 320 passengers, but around only 70 of them would have seats.  It is in effect a light railway and will cost more than £460 million.

Transport for London say they want to 'consult local people, but consultation in TfL’s book is about writing a cleverly worded survey in which only one of the many questions count.  It might be “Do you want to see improvements in public transport?” or “Do you think traffic should be managed better?” and of course, we’re all going say yes, or be judged insane and ignored.  It also involves not involving the people most likely to be affected by the tram scheme.

While we hear of their glossy tram promotional material being delivered to homes as far afield as Richmond and Brent only 8 people at a recent Save Ealings Streets meeting had received one.  21 had not.  And these are people who are expecting to receive tram material and look out for it, not just chuck it in the trash.  No wonder SES has come to the end of the road with TfL.  Having valiantly slogged their way through 2 years of ‘consultation’ meetings to try to stop TfL from closing sections of the Uxbridge Road, and having achieved virtually nothing, SES now know that TfL can say they have ‘consulted’ the local people, and the local people will know that however hard you try with TfL they do not pay a scrap of notice to what you say.

People in Richmond and Brent won’t be affected by

  • the loss of our shops due to their loss of customers;
  • the circuituous routes we will have to take to get into and out of our own streets, 
  • the increased pressure of traffic on the adjacent arteries, such as the A40 and the Goldhawk Road, and those roads crossing the Uxbridge Road;
  • the inability of people living along the route to take deliveries, move house, get dropped off by a taxi or an ambulance; and
  • the increase in rat-running to escape the delays caused by the tram
  • the three to four years of road works

and that’s even before we start talking about the colossal cost and who pays for it.  Well, that will be us, all of us will pay for it - through increased taxes, increased costs in the shops and the run-down of other public transport systems due to lack of sensible investment in them. 

You cannot run a railway down a major road and not cause chaos and lasting damage.  However attractive a tram might be ecologically and environmentally, there’s no point in having a tram for the sake of having a tram.  It is our view that TfL did not ask themselves what could be done to improve traffic along the Uxbridge Road, but rather “Where can we put a tram?” More investment in cleaner fuels is required – not a railway on a road, and we need a bus that will carry on along the Uxbridge Road into town – at the moment all we have is the 94 from Acton Green which goes along the Goldhawk Road through to Piccadilly Circus.

Yes, Croydon’s tram is quick and clean, but it mostly runs along disused railway tracks, is losing money hand over fist and doesn’t take two lanes out of a major artery in and out of the capital city.  The West London Tram would not be better integrated with existing public transport, in fact there would be fewer stops so people would have to walk further to get one. 

The enormous cost of the this ‘light-railway-on-a-road’ would be better spent on improving existing public systems, but improving existing schemes is not glamourous enough for the present Mayor.  Ken Livingstone does not want to improve public transport, he wants to be SEEN to be improving public transport.  There are no brownie points in it for him if he spends millions of pounds on the Underground – underground and unseen.  The tramway would be a monument to Ken, and a monumental disaster for those of us who live in the area and have businesses along the Uxbridge Road.

Samantha Covington

Save Shepherds Bush Streets

June 7, 2004