New Thames crossing will be delivered within a decade

12 January 2012

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will confirm that a major new river crossing for the east of the capital will be completed within a decade in a speech to London’s Government leaders tonight (12 January).

In his speech the Mayor is expected to assert the need to complete the vital Tube upgrades that are underway and make the case for a further phase of investment in schemes that will support the capital's growth. That includes a package of new river crossings for the east of the capital, which will address existing congestion problems as well as enable future growth in this important and developing part of London.

The Mayor will confirm that he intends to deliver a new road tunnel between the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown in the Royal Docks, which could potentially move 2,400 vehicles an hour in each direction under the river, and that Transport for London is to begin preliminary consultation work on the new tunnel in February.

In a further boost to Londoners living or working in the east of the capital the Mayor is also expected to promise that a new ferry running between Beckton and Thamesmead at Gallions Reach will be delivered by 2017. The new crossings are in addition to the cable car currently under construction that will carry 2,500 pedestrians and cyclists an hour across the Thames.

Since his election the Mayor has driven forward a huge programme of investment across the capital’s transport systems. He protected the largest investment programme in the history of the Tube from Government cuts and secured the investment required for Crossrail. When combined they will increase London’s rail capacity by 30 per cent and support over 30,000 jobs. The Mayor has also delivered the first phase of his flagship cycle hire scheme that will expand to east London this year before the 2012 Games and will go west in 2013.

But in his speech tonight the Mayor is expected to make it clear that for London to remain among the elite world cities this investment must not be allowed to falter. As well as new river crossings he will describe how Transport for London is now pushing ahead with a Transport and Works Act that will deliver an extension of the Northern Line to Battersea.

After a series of false starts an extension of the northern Line will release the huge untapped potential of the stretch of river between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges. In the medium term it will deliver 16,000 new jobs and 25,000 new homes. But the Mayor’s clarion call for investment will flag that this is just one of many areas in the capital that could benefit from investment in the transport network and result in the delivery of thousands more new jobs.

A key element of the Mayor’s speech is expected to highlight how public sector investment can successfully be achieved through partnership with private sector funding. In the capital the Mayor has used that type of partnership to great effect through Barclays sponsorship of his cycle hire scheme, and through Emirates contribution to the cost of building the Emirates Air-Line cable car that will be completed this summer. The Mayor will also point out how the Government has listened to calls for new innovative ways of financing major infrastructure through methods such as tax increment financing, which allow you to borrow against future business rates in a certain area.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “When I look at London I see a city of incredible potential and tonight I will make the case for a huge new phase of investment in the capital, including a major new river crossing east of Tower Bridge. We are in the right time zone, speak the right language and have the young, skilled population to continue to attract investment from the world’s greatest businesses. This is not a time for London to falter it is a time for London to flourish.”

Notes to editors


  • East London’s Boroughs will accommodate around 40% (or an additional 400,000 people) of London’s population growth to 2031 and around a quarter of London’s employment growth


  • A lack of river crossings has disadvantaged firms in East London and created a distinctive economic geography of deprivation*


  • A tunnel at Silvertown will support regeneration and maximise the socio-economic potential of the many opportunity areas in east London. Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks Opportunity Areas alone have expansion proposals of up to 13,000 jobs and 24,500 new homes.


  • Providing a full gauge tunnel at Silvertown will help alleviate the closures caused by overheight vehicles attempting to use the Blackwall Tunnel.


  • Silvertown tunnel will provide much needed resilience to Blackwall Tunnel, which between April 2010 and January 2011 was closed for a total period of nearly 5 days due to incidents


  • The extra capacity and resilience provided by the Silvertown tunnel will reduce the typical 20 minute delay approaching the Blackwall tunnel.


  • The Silvertown tunnel will help lead to more reliable, quicker journey times for road users and will contribute to the Mayoral objective of smoothing traffic flow. Initial estimates suggest the scheme offers journey time savings of around 16,500 vehicle hours per day. This equates to over £200,000 of benefits per day, or £55m per annum.


  • A new ferry at Gallions Reach would provide 30% more capacity than the current Woolwich Ferry and will help connect the opportunity and growth areas of Thamesmead and London Riverside.


  • By improving connectivity and providing journey time savings a new ferry at Gallions Reach provides benefits of many times its costs.


*The worst economic and social deprivation in England is still in East London

– Economic activity rate is nearly 10% lower than the GB average

– Unemployment rate is 40% higher than the London average and 60% higher than the national average

– JSA claimants (6.3% in Newham) are 80% higher than the national level

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