Thamesmead has been kept waiting for news on whether the government will help fund a Docklands Light Railway extension, after the area’s local MP told ministers the rail link could “level up” the area.
A long-term deal over Transport for London’s future has been delayed once again, with emergency funding rolled over for another two weeks last night.
The mayor’s transport agency is facing a £1.9 billion funding gap and has warned of sharp cuts to services if the government does not step in with long-term support.
Like most world cities, London used to have a regular government grant, but TfL was left reliant on fare income following a deal struck by Boris Johnson when he was mayor. The business model engineered by Johnson collapsed at the start of the pandemic as commuters stayed at home.
While more expensive TfL projects, such as the Bakerloo line extension, have been kicked into the long grass, Sadiq Khan wants to extend the Beckton branch of the DLR across the Thames to support plans for 30,000 new homes in both Beckton and Thamesmead.
Abena Oppong-Asare told the House of Commons on Thursday that the area desperately needed the new rail line to boost its economy.
“Thamesmead in my constituency needs levelling up,” she said. “It has some of the worst public transport links in the capital. There are ambitious plans to extend the Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead, which are supported by Greenwich and Newham councils and Transport for London. Will the minister look favourably at these proposals when they are submitted to the government, and provide the necessary funding to finally put Thamesmead on the transport map?”
Wendy Morton, a junior transport minister, was non-committal.
“With regard to extending the DLR, the scale of the opportunity from the potential options at Thamesmead and Beckton Riverside is being explored and the Government and Homes England are working together with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to do this,” 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.
Across the Thames in Barking Riverside, thousands of new homes are only being built because the London Overground is due to open there later this year.
Last year, Oppong-Asare told the BBC that the housing was desperately needed in her constituency. “We need the housing – a lot of my casework is housing-related,” she said.
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