September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
”If the secretary of state got off his arse and pushed the Bill through, we could start sometime towards the end of 2004 or 2005."
The speaker, one Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, commenting on transport secretary Alistar Darling”s suggestion that Cross-rail would not be completed in time for the 2012 Olympics.
ABTN does not often agree with Livingstone”s comments (see the London website http://www.london.gov.uk for a classic abuse of the authority vested in him), but on this occasion he is very very right. Just how long does it take to build an underground railway between Paddington and the East End? Ten years minimum it would appear according to the latest short-term incumbent of the government”s transport portfolio. This country lost and then won World War II in just five years. Why is it that the French, typically, can get the canals, bridges and roads ready in time for Airbus 380 components to be transported from Bordeaux to Toulouse whilst we are still struggling with the paperwork. The DLR took a mere three years to build for just £77m. With Crossrail we are talking about £10bn.
The need for a modern deep Underground link between Paddington, the City and the booming Docklands has been apparent at least since Maggie Thatcher established the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981. Anything to relieve the pressure on the existing network and speed up cross-London travel. From an air transport point of view Paddington is now established as a major gateway to Heathrow (well to everyone except British Airways) but it is very difficult to make the next connection, that is to the Underground. Compare Paddington to say Westminster or Canary Wharf Underground as stations. Not in the same league in terms of excellence.
To date this government has spent £144m on Crossrail without a sod of earth being moved and has earmarked another £154m for a feasibility study. Under the current timetable tendering for contracts will not go out until 2007. Even if the actual construction go-ahead were to be given that year the experts say that it will not be ready for 2112. In fact if we were to win the Olympics for that year international visitors would only have a building site to see. Is that the way to welcome guests? Or is the Olympic bid so much of a dream that the politicians have already given up! Have another re-think. Surely it is about time that we broke out of the present philosophy. Let us say it will be complete by 2112, Olympics or no Olympics.
ABTN has a short-term solution to the problem. No stroke of brilliance. Just common sense. Add more trains on to the Circle Line in order to offer passengers a unit every two or three minutes in both directions. Please Mr Underground tell us why not! It would make you very popular. And not just at Paddington.