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London orbital railway on mayor's £1.3tn wishlist


London orbital railway on mayor's £1.3tn wishlist

Boris Johnson says London Infrastructure 2050 plan is a wake-up call to stark needs of London over next half a century

Blueprints for a new orbital metro-style railway around London are being drawn up by the city's transport authorities as part of a massive proposed infrastructure investment to keep the capital moving as the population soars in coming decades.

About £200bn of spending on transport infrastructure alone will be needed in the capital by 2050 to keep it in the top tier of world cities, according to the London mayor, Boris Johnson. Predicting that London's geography would shift to the east as the population passes 11 million, Johnson said unfashionable Barking would be the Piccadilly Circus of a century's time.

Johnson was in the east London borough to launch his London Infrastructure 2050 plan, which he described as "a real wake-up call to the stark needs that face London over the next half century".

He said: "Without a long-term plan for investment and the political will to implement it, this city will falter. Londoners need to know they will get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life that they expect."

The concept for an additional fast orbital rail service linking boroughs in the inner suburbs – dubbed the R25 in City Hall – follows the rapid growth of London Overground, which has seen a boom in passenger numbers since being enhanced and integrated into the capital's transport system, helping regenerate areas and stations and decongest tube lines. The mayor said Crossrail 2, a new north-south line linking Wimbledon to Hackney across central London and probably extending into the suburbs, should be approved as a matter of urgency, and other Crossrail lines could follow. The transport commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, said the arrival of HS2, the high-speed link to the Midlands and the north, into Euston station meant immediate action was needed, with a likely 15-year minimum timescale for planning and construction work.

"If HS2 gets there before Crossrail 2, there will an awful lot of people walking around [Euston] because they won't be able to get on the tube," Hendy said.

The mayor reiterated his wish to build a series of new river crossings and an inner orbital road tunnel. Planners hope to deal with the increasing demand for road space by encouraging freight vehicles underground.

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