Imagine that in 1978 the Greater London Council had published a London Infrastructure Plan 2014. It would have been a thick document, probably typewritten and photocopied, setting out the infrastructure the capital might need 36 years into the future. It would also have been rubbish. The plan would have been based on decreasing population figures, continuing the capital's steady post-war decline. It would have anticipated the extension of the M1 motorway beyond the North Circular Road into the heart of London. It would also have highlighted the imminent arrival of the Jubilee line, and potential extensions to Lewisham and Hayes.
It's easy to see today that a plan written in 1978 would be pure fiction. Well-meaning fiction for sure, and potentially correct short-term, but doomed to obsolescence as the decades passed. Changes of government derailed certain plans, collapse of funding caused others, and subsequent changes in policy sent all sorts of schemes in completely different directions. We should therefore be terribly sceptical when the Mayor launches a London Infrastructure Plan 2050 covering a similar timespan. It's excellent to have long-term plans, indeed essential if the great ship Megacity London is ever to be steered. But as for how much of the document's blue-skies thinking is likely to happen by mid-century, I'd not expect a close match between pdf and reality.
What's coloured my perception of the document is the realisation that by 2050 I expect to be dead. Clearly this is a somewhat negative view to take, because society needs to plan beyond its lifespan to survive. But I look at some of the proposed ideas in Boris's document and think "What, seriously, one of the richest cities in the world can't get its act together to build a few miles of this and that within the next 25 years?" And I know several projects will be completed, but a megalopolis of ten million plus could do with a few more and sooner. What does it say for our collective will to organise when the extension of an Underground line to Hayes, first proposed when I was at primary school, probably won't be achieved until I'm underground myself?
So here's a list of rail projects proposed deep in the appendix to the Mayor's London Infrastructure Plan 2050, a fascinating document, chronicled below so that you can come back in the years to come and see what actually happened.
2016: World Class capacity Victoria line 2017: Tottenham Court Road major upgrade; Vauxhall capacity and access upgrade; 4-car trains on Overground Gospel Oak-Barking 2018:Thameslink Programme complete; Bond Street major capacity and access upgrade 2019:Crossrail 1; World Class capacity Jubilee line; Victoria major capacity and access upgrade; Elephant & Castle capacity and access upgrade 2020:Northern line extension to Battersea; Overground extension to Barking Riverside; New stations for Beam Park, Brent Cross, Cricklewood 2021: Old Street capacity upgrade 2022: Northern line capacity upgrade; New entrances at Bank station plus a new southbound Northern line running tunnel and platform; DLR Royal Docks capacity enhancements 2023: Holborn new entrance and interchange link 2024: Camden Town major interchange and access upgrade, Paddington major capacity and access upgrade; Old DLR stock replaced; Chiltern electrification and longer trains; Chiltern service Wycombe to West Ealing and/or Old Oak Common via Greenford; Capacity upgrade on Brighton Main Line, High Speed 1 and Essex Thameside 2025: DLR station at Thames Wharf; DLR night services from Bank to Lewisham and Woolwich 2026:High Speed 2 Euston to West Midlands; Crossrail 1 to West Coast Mainline Watford Jn/Tring; HS2/Overground station at Old Oak Common; DLR all three-car; Major Tramlink upgrade potentially doubling service frequency 2027: Sixth carriage added on Overground NLL/WLL 2029: Sixth carriage added on Overground ELL; Full automation of Piccadilly line; 30tph on Crossrail 1 2030:Crossrail 1 to Dartford/Ebbsfleet (and new airport?); Crossrail 1/Heathrow Express merger; South London rail link to Heathrow; Tramlink extension to Sutton 2031: DLR enhanced frequencies to Stratford 2032: Full automation of Central line 2035:Crossrail 2; Bakerloo line capacity upgrade; Significant capacity enhancement schemes at Baker Street, Piccadilly Circus, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, High St Kensington and Harrow-on-the-Hill 2040:Bakerloo Southern extension via Old Kent Road and Lewisham to Hayes and Beckenham Junction; Two additional trains per hour on Overground Gospel Oak-Barking; 50% frequency increase on Overground NLL/WLL 2040+:Crossrail 3 from Thames Estuary Airport (via East London to Central London and Beyond); New orbital route from Hounslow to Brent Cross (via Brentford, Acton, Old Oak Common and Neasden) 2045: Full automation of Bakerloo line; Northern line extension phase 2 to Clapham Junction 2050: Tower Gateway DLR closed and replacement station constructed underground on Bank branch with direct link to Tower Hill; Significant capacity enhancement schemes at Waterloo, Earl’s Court, White City, Green Park, Warren Street, Walthamstow and Embankment