Driving growth – the impact of transport investment and delivery on the capital

Thursday 1 March 2012

The Olympics represents a golden chance to rethink the way we travel around London.

That is according to Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy, addressing an NLA conference on driving growth from transport schemes across the capital. ‘We have to go at transport demand management in a way that we have never gone at it before’, he said. ‘Our systems are already full – the only way of doing that is to persuade people to travel differently.’

Hendy was detailing some of the main moves being made towards helping Londoners manage their own journeys and to feel that cycling and walking are ‘viable options’, with plans even for in-station Wi-Fi to support travellers finding out the latest real-time travel information. But he said that on funding big schemes, what he called the ‘myopic’ Treasury officials need to be convinced that London has not had too much money already. ‘That’s rubbish’, he said. ‘What you want is business to argue it for you’, he said. ‘In the end we got Crossrail because business said without this the City won’t grow and will stultify and actually we’re thinking of moving somewhere else’. The optimal rail scenario in the capital, he added is more fundamental: ‘Why would you need a timetable in Greater London? You should go onto the station and a train should come’. The other ‘great legacy’ in behaviour will be on freight and logistics, with more deliveries by night. Given more funding, the future will be ‘very exciting’ and ‘much brighter if we all recognize that development and transport are linked’, Hendy added.

Transport for London’s Michele Dix continued the theme, stating that London’s transport system needs continual investment to support and promote the city’s growth and the one million more trips made on the network every five years. But without support for schemes like Crossrail 2 – the Chelsea-Hackney line – congestion and overcrowding problems will return by the mid 2020s, and the benefits of HS2 will not be felt.

Dix said continued investment will be needed to support the 33 Opportunity Areas, with the 500,000 new jobs and 250,000 new homes projected to come with them. A case in point is Nine Elms, where the key to accessibility for the place will be the ‘unlocking’ of the Northern Line Extension. ‘As I keep on saying, we need to do more’ said Dix. Dix said new methods of funding will be needed to underpin proposed river crossings at Silvertown and Gallions Reach, with sponsorship – as has been successfully drawn with the Emirates Air Line Cable Car – ‘an example we want to consider.’

The conference also heard from speakers including Bircham Dyson Bell partner Nick Maltby, who said UK spending on infrastructure pales into insignificance with China’s, both absolutely and relatively. TIFs could be one way forward for funding future infrastructure schemes. The ripple effect benefits from such schemes are well-documented, but less so is the environmental benefit of schemes like Crossrail, which is predicted to reduce total emissions of CO2 by 1300 tonnes per annum as a result of modal shift. Crossrail will also enhance the property asset values by some 5-10% for assets within 800m of stations, and 13 over station developments will bring some 3.3million sq ft gross of offices, retail and residential. ‘Crossrail has a major role to play in bringing forward regeneration in London’, said Ian Lindsay, land and property director of Crossrail.

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly

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