Rail lines drawn to aid London growth

March 11 2015  

Rail lines drawn to aid London growth

Two new orbital rail networks should be built around London within 50 years to improve links between several regional cities and relieve pressure on routes heading into the capital, a new report suggests.

AECOM’s growth manifesto for a new ‘London City Region’ in 2065 proposes an outer orbital railway linking Cambridge with Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading, Guildford, the Medway towns, Chelmsford and Stansted airport.

Also described in the report is the need for an inner orbital railway to link three new ‘Metro Cities’ of Brent Cross, Woolwich and Croydon with Heathrow airport.

Alignment of a Crossrail 3 is also suggested, connecting Old Oak Common near Heathrow with new areas of growth in south London around Battersea, Clapham and Woolwich and the Thames Gateway in Essex. Crossrail 3 has been mooted in the past, but until now transport chiefs in London have been guarded as to where such a route should go.

AECOM also calls for the creation of a new London City Region Transportation Authority to integrate transport plans with spatial development proposals. It says that recent strategies such as the Mayor’s Infrastructure Plan 2050 do not go far enough. The scope of future studies must, it adds, extend beyond the edge of Greater London which is described in the manifesto as a boundary that no longer reflects the scale and reach of the capital’s economy.

A further measure in the manifesto relating to transportation is a need to review the current greenbelt arrangement, particularly around train and Underground stations, to encourage further housing.

AECOM’s UK lead for design, planning and economics Andrew Jones said: “We need to think differently about London, not just as a city but as a city region if we are to meet the multiple challenges to infrastructure, planning, transport and housing that are crucial to London’s competitiveness and quality of life.”

Company director Tom Venables, also involved in developing the manifesto, added: “With a year to go before the London Mayoral Election there is an urgent need for strategic planning in London and the South East to be discussed.”

Campaign to Protect Rural England's planning officer John Rowley said of the suggestion to look again at the greenbelt: "The idea of removing greenbelt is deeply flawed. Greenbelt policy has been incredibly successful at not only protecting vital green space but also promoting urban regeneration. New development should be focused on brownfield sites within the existing urban area."

(Photo: Jim Linwood)

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