Thursday, January 12, 2012

Boris Johnson plans Thames tunnel after scrapping Thames Gateway Bridge

London Mayor Boris Johnson is going to announce plans to build a Thames tunnel linking Silvertown in East London and the Greenwich peninsula, somewhere on the map below:

 As useful as this link would undoubtedly prove this comes just a few years after the same mayor, Boris Johnson, scrapped plans by the previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, for a Thames Gateway Bridge, just a bit further east along the river.

Apparently there was no funding for that. Given that tunnels cost a great deal more than bridges, where is the money for the tunnel? I suspect that the bridge was scrapped simply because it was proposed by a Labour mayor.

In his early days, Boris didn't see much point in being mayor and did little to propose major projects to change the fabric of the city. After a few years in the throne he has changed his tune and is getting to quite like vanity projects:

  • There is his expensive new Routemaster, the world's most expensive bus at an eye-watering £1.6m each
  • A loss making cable car - it cost £60m to build and has attracted only £36m in sponsorship
  • And the popular but loss making cycle hire scheme. Over six years this cost TfL £140 to build but Barclays sponsorship only claws back about a quarter of that, while usage fees are estimated to bring in about £1m a year. Clearly not enough
The latter of course was a plan started by the previous mayor.

In 2008 Boris Johnson promised to give Londoners more bang for their buck. He has succeeded only in giving us more bang for more bucks. Not quite the same thing.


Joe Jones said...

Why the chuffing heck does a cable car need to make money? It's a much-needed East London river crossing. East of Tower Bridge there is one -- ONE -- cycleable river crossing. We need more!

Tim McLoughlin said...

East London definitely needs more ways across the river. Thing is, I doubt either cable car or a tunnel will be cycle friendly.

Joe Jones said...

We will be allowed to take bicycles on the cable car. The tunnel seems to me a worse idea than Ken's bridge, but I've no idea why one would be a vanity project and not the other.

Tim McLoughlin said...

My point about vanity projects, perhaps not argued clearly enough, was that when he came in Boris scrapped all of Ken's schemes. Some with merit, others with less. At that point he didn't seem interested in any of the typical mayor legacy building/vanity schemes. Over the course of his term he seems to have become rather smitten by them.