Thamesmead ‘desperately needs’ threatened DLR extension, MP says

DLR at Elverson Road
A DLR link to Thamesmead could be scrapped without government backing

A DLR extension to Thamesmead is “desperately needed”, the area’s local MP has said as plans for the new rail link hang in the balance.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to extend the Beckton branch of the DLR across the Thames to support plans for 30,000 new homes in both Beckton and Thamesmead.

But work on the scheme has been put on hold after the pandemic shattered Transport for London’s finances, leaving it reliant on short-term bailouts from the Westminster government.

Another deal was supposed to be signed in time for Saturday, but talks are still going on, with TfL due to run out of money by the end of the week. Khan has warned that the plans could be scrapped if no deal is struck.

TfL has lost its central government subsidy as a result of a deal struck by Boris Johnson and George Osborne, who were mayor and chancellor at the time, leaving it more reliant on fares than other world cities – a business model that collapsed when commuters stayed away because of the pandemic.

Abena Oppong-Asare, the MP for Erith & Thamesmead, told the BBC’s Politics London programme yesterday that the rail link would hugely improve life in her constituency.

“It’s quite a journey to travel from Thamesmead into London – there’s no Tube station, there’s no train station, we desperately need the DLR there,” she said.

The link would support the development of new homes at Thamesmead Waterfront, the last major area of undeveloped land – new homes that may not be built without new transport links.

“We need the housing – a lot of my casework is housing-related,” she added.

Thamesmead has been left waiting for new rail links since the new town saw its first residents arrive in the late 1960s. Early plans for the Jubilee Line to run there were scrapped in the 1970s, while there have been demands for the DLR to serve the area since the railway opened in 1987.

Across the Thames in Barking Riverside, thousands of new homes are only being built because the London Overground is being extended there. TfL has brushed off calls to further extend the route south of the river, saying it would not be good value.

While Khan announced the extension plans in 2016 – on the same day he confirmed he was going ahead with the Silvertown Tunnel – plans remain sketchy, with talks ongoing with developers.

Last month Greenwich councillors called for any extension to run on to Abbey Wood, and TfL has said that any route would be developed with a future extension in mind.

Video used by arrangement with BBC Local News Partnerships.


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