No Decision on Tram until late 2004

Uncertainty over Treasury funding for the scheme causes further delay


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The plan to build a tram to run down the Uxbridge Road looks an even more distant prospect with the project now hinging on Treasury support.

Over the summer Transport for London (TfL) temporarily stopped all work on the tram, pending a review of all their major projects, and although work is now continuing again, Ken Livingstone has delayed his decision on whether to implement the tram until autumn/winter 2004.

The delay to the timetable means that Ken Livingstone's decision is now more than a year away. The delay is partly due to the extensive work needed to address the concerns raised by the local community, but also because TfL need to know if they will get Treasury backing for the proposed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to finance the scheme. TfL don't have enough money for all the projects they hope to implement, and the Treasury will make an announcement about funding TfL projects (including the tram) next summer.

An existing tram system operating in Croydon. copyright Mark Jansen


Before that there will be two further rounds of local consultation group meetings with Ealing resident & community groups in December 2003 and February/March 2004 (see details below). Sometime thereafter, Ken Livingstone will review the 'in progress' plans for the WLT but he will not take a decision in principle at that point. If the Treasury support the project, TfL will carry out further consultation in autumn 2004 (which is likely to include a consultation document sent to houses in the affected area). The Mayor will take his decision on the scheme in autumn/winter 2004 and then, if he decides to proceed, TfL will submit a request for a Transport Works Act in spring/summer 2005.

In Ealing the consultation process is continuing although the number of meetings has been cut back. The final two rounds of local consultation group (LCG) meetings in December 2003 and February/March 2004 will address road closures and the alternatives, and results of the traffic modelling. The second meeting will be presented with the revised scheme.

The meetings which have been cancelled were to have been on the Business Case, Cycle Routes and Environmental Issues. It is proposed that the groups represented on the LCGs will receive a pack of documents for each of the three issues but there will be no opportunity to discuss these documents with TfL at this stage. After the final two LCG meetings, there will be further consultation with Ealing on local traffic management in spring/summer 2004.

TfL are not now planning to organise a similar consultation process in the other boroughs affected by the scheme, although they are proposing ad hoc meetings with resident and community groups and businesses in Hammersmith & Fulham and Hillingdon.

The Ealing Council remains a strong supporter of the principle of the WLT scheme and believe the LCGs have been very useful in identifying the main areas of concern and a range of potential solutions. Alex Williams (Director of Transport & Planning Policy, LB Ealing) is leaving Ealing for a similar post in Camden where they are also hoping to implement a tram.

Campaign group Save Ealing's Streets are encouraged that TfL appears to be taking seriously the concerns presented to them via the LCG process and are planning to look at alternatives to road closures and the implications of such changes. A spokes person for the group said, "They welcome the opportunity to review these changes at the forthcoming LCG meetings. The revised timetable makes much more sense by allowing fuller consideration of the implications of the scheme. However, we are concerned that the LCG meeting to discuss Enviromental Issues has been cancelled as we see this is a major local concern and one that is closely tied to road closures. "

SES delivered 4000 cards to Ken Livingstone outside City Hall on July 17th and claim that many more were sent directly. They say that when they spoke to the Mayor in July he said he would not support a scheme that included road closures.

The delay to the tram comes at the same time as the Crossrail project moves a step closer to realisation. The high speed train link scheme envisages a 5.3km tunnel which will pass under the Uxbridge Road on its way to Chiswick from Paddington.

October 7, 2003