November 6, 2008 / 2:18 PM / 11 years ago

London mayor axes transport schemes

LONDON (Reuters) - London mayor Boris Johnson said on Thursday he was axing transport projects that would have cost more than 3 billion pounds, to concentrate on “key” schemes that had funding in place.

Johnson’s 10-year transport plans will focus on upgrading the underground system, building the massive east-west Crossrail train project, extending the East London line, improving vehicle traffic flows and boosting cycling.

However, he said he would ditch plans for numerous projects including a new Thames Gateway Bridge in east London, the Cross River Tram scheme, the Croydon Tramlink extension, the DLR extension to Dagenham Dock and a tram scheme for Oxford Street.

The Conservative mayor, who defeated former Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone in May’s election, said the aim was to push ahead with proposals that would provide the greatest benefit to Londoners.

“At a time when Londoners are struggling, it is our duty to get maximum bang for their buck and invest in fully funded schemes that we know can be delivered,” Johnson said.

“I will not continue with the former mayor’s unrealistic and hollow promises.”

Johnson said the projects included in Transport for London’s 10-year business plan would boost the public transport network by almost 30 percent and create thousands of jobs.

There will be new air-conditioned Tube trains, upgrades to the Jubilee, Victoria and Northern lines to increase capacity by up to 30 percent, a new Routemaster bus, and schemes to promote walking and cycling.

The Labour group on the London Assembly said the announcement would be a huge disappointment for the public.

“There is nothing about how the Mayor will encourage people onto public transport, but plenty about giving back road space and speeding up traffic lights in favour of the ‘oppressed’ motorist,” said Labour’s transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross.

“This document represents a shocking failure to understand the importance of transport to Londoners and fails on every single level to provide London with a ‘direction of travel’ on our future transport needs. It is utter drivel.”

However green campaigners welcomed the decision to axe plans for the Thames Gateway Bridge which they said would cause more congestion and pollution.

“We hope the decision signals an end to discredited and outdated attempts to regenerate London by simply building more roads,” said Jenny Bates of Friends of the Earth,

“Any new scheme should bring the benefits of regeneration without causing environmental problems.”

Reporting by Michael Holden' Editing by Steve Addison

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