The Anonymous Widower

No To Silvertown Tunnel

My personal feelings about the Silvertown Tunnel are that it is irrelevant to me, except that it might help some trucks bring goods that I buy online or at a local shop. Although as a sixty-eight year-old-widower living alone, I don’t think my transport needs through the tunnel will be high.

I don’t drive after my stroke and I like that lifestyle, except when last night it takes me three trains, a coach and a taxi to get back from watching football at Ipswich. But that tortuous late night journey was caused because NuLabor spent my tax money on pointless wars that will haunt us for generations, rather than in extending and renewing our rail system, that will nurture and enrich our future.

So when I read this article on CityMetric entitled Forget Road Bridges. TfL Should Extend The Overground To Thamesmead And Abbey Wood. I couldn’t agree more although after recent trips to Germany and Birmingham, I think there could be a better and more comprehensive plan.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve made quite a few trips to South East London, including this one where I walked along Bazalgette’s sewer between Plumstead and Abbey Wood. It is a land that London forgot.

This was brought home to me, by my travelling companion to Birmingham, who is a solicitor, who lives near where I do and works in South East London. She said the East London Line has made a difference, but connections are still not the best.

When TfL published their plans about public transport in 2050, I wrote about a tunnel connecting Barking Riverside to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood.

Since I wrote that article, I have visited Germany and seen their tram-trains. I now believe that these could be the way to create a universe-class connection. Tram-trains like these Class 399 trains, which are soon to be trialled between Sheffield and Rotherham, could run on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and then perhaps do a little loop at Barking Riverside before returning to Gospel Oak.

Note that we’re not talking untried technology here as you can see the German version of the Class 399 on the streets and railway tracks of several German cities. Undoubtedly, if the Germans were extending the GOBlin, they would use tram-trains, as they could serve build several stops with with the money needed to build Barking Riverside station.  And all the stops, like those on the London Tramlink would be fully step-free.

But we are talking about the Silvertown Tunnel in this article, so the loop in Barking Riverside, would extend across the river in one way or the other. Sometimes, I think that a tunnel under the Thames would be a case of hiding your biggest light under an enormous bushel. So why not create a high bridge to allow the biggest ships underneath, with a tram track or two, a cycle path and a walking route? It would have some of the best views in London. Forget the Garden Bridge! This would be blue sky thinking creating something that those living on both sides of the river could use every day to get to work or for leisure reasons. Tourists would come to view London, as they do on large entry bridges in cities like New York and Lisbon.

Effectively, you have a conventional tram connecting Barking, Barking Riverside, Thamesmead and Abbey Wood. At Barking and Abbey Wood, the Class 399 trains become trains and could go to Gospel Oak and perhaps Romford, Upminster and Tilbury in the North and perhaps Woolwich, Lewisham, Dartford or Bluewater in the South.

Everything you would need to create such a link is tried and tested technology or designs that have been implemented in either the UK or Germany over the last few years.

In TfL’s plans for 2050, I found the words Penge and Brockley High Level buried in an Appendix listing places where there could be new transport interchanges.

I believe that an interchange at Penge would link the East London Line to the South Eastern Main Line and trains between Victoria and Orpington. Another interchange at Brockley would link the East London Line to the trains going across South London between Lewisham and Abbey Wood.

Conventional thinking says that these interchanges will be difficult to build, but Birmingham has already created a station that solves this problem at Smethwick Galton Bridge.

As London Overground have the capacity to run twenty four trains every hour each way on the East London Line, these two interchanges would help solve the chronic connectivity to and from South East London. They would also bring more passengers to the East London Line to fill all those trains.

One of the things that the increased number of trains on the East London Line would need is another terminal and possibilities include Beckenham Junction or my favourite, Orpington.

I think it is true to say that there are more possibilities to improve connectivity east of the East London Line, both North and South of the River, than both London’s Mayors have ever dreamed about. To be fair to both of them, it’s only in recent years that tram-trains have been seriously thought about in the UK, although the Germans have had them for a decade or so.

Get it right and the Silvertown Tunnel can just be a entry on that large directory of projects that were never started.

The No To Silvertown Tunnel Campaign is right!

August 12, 2015 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. So there are some fresh, doable ideas out there, hopefully your blog has been read by thousands. Thanks Anon.Wid. and I hope you have a very Happy Birthday!

    Comment by Jill | August 12, 2015 | Reply

  2. I will have a happy birthday with the one son, his partner and my granddaughter, who is the daughter of my son who died.

    Anybody interested in urban transport systems, should visit Krakow for its trams, Kassel and Krlsruhe for their tram-trains, Smethwick Galton Bridge for the station and London for the maps and information.

    Always innovate!

    For instance, who would have thought that the grotty North and East London Lines of my childhood, would be the Overground we know today?

    Comment by AnonW | August 12, 2015 | Reply

  3. […] The first was an article on CityMetric entitled Forget Road Bridges. TfL Should Extend The Overground To Thamesmead And Abbey Wood, which prompted me to write No To Silvertown Tunnel. […]

    Pingback by Could The Gospel Oak to Barking Line Transform East London? « The Anonymous Widower | August 14, 2015 | Reply

  4. […] made my feeling clear about the tunnel in No To Silvertown Tunnel . I started by saying […]

    Pingback by The Mayor’s Plans For East London River Crossings « The Anonymous Widower | October 8, 2016 | Reply


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