Crucial links hold key to the future : DOCKLANDS A SPECIAL REPORT

The history of the redevelopment of Docklands has been dominated by the issue of transport. At first much of the Docklands area, particularly Canary Wharf, was completely inaccessible. There was the odd bus, a semi-defunct railway line and a lot o f roads which were all right in themselves for local use, but which quickly became hopelessly jammed at the access points to the rest of east London at peak hours.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a large proportion of public expenditure on revitalising the area has been spent on transport. So far, around £600m has gone on roads and £750m on the Docklands Light Railway. Indeed, Docklands will also soon boast the most expensive tube line ever built in Britain, the £1.8bn Jubilee Line Extension, as well as the most expensive section of road, the £300m-mile long Limehouse link.

There is no doubt that in the early stages Docklands transport was cobbled together as an afterthought. The Docklands Light Railway was just such a hasty response. It was envisaged initially as a cheap way of bringing people from the City to the Isle of Dogs and was originally going to be a tram system at street level, but that idea was quickly dropped. The first phase, opened in 1987 went from the Isle of Dogs to Tower Gateway, next to Fenchurch Street station in the City and cost only £77m to build. Now its various phases and additions have resulted in ten times that amount of money being spent on a railway that critics say is now the wrong type of system for Docklands' needs.

Ben Kochan of the Docklands Forum said "The original Docklands Plan envisaged a proper tube line but it was thought to be too expensive. Nobody now, starting from scratch, would build a light railway for the kinds of numbers of people working in Docklands."

Now, however, Docklands will be getting its own tube line. The Jubilee Line Extension should be completed by 28 March 1998 - a date bravely put forward by London Underground for the day it will "open for business". A spokeswoman for the line said that although some work had been held up because the tunnelling was being done by the same method used for the Heathrow Express - which suffered a collapse last October - the scheme was still on schedule.

The line has been dogged by controversy, partly because it was seen as no less vital for London's infrastructure than other mooted projects such as the Chelsea to Hackney tube line. Then with the collapse of Olympia and York, the developers of Canary Wharf, which had promised £160m towards the cost of construction, the start of work was delayed for over a year for negotiations with the banks which took over the development. The Government steadfastly refused to fund the whole project and eventually a deal was struck with the help of £98m from the European Investment Bank.

This was a turning point. Without the prospect of a tube line, the DLR would just not have been able to cope with the increased numbers of office workers in the development.

Ironically, the opening of the JLE will put the DLR, which is due to be privatised next year, at risk and makes it almost imperative for the line to extend southwards to grab a whole new catchment area. The £100m Lewisham extension scheme, which will include stations at Greenwich and Deptford and possibly at Cutty Sark - though the cost may rule this out -has been drawn up but the Government has insisted that it should be funded through the private sector. Four consortia are putting forward schemes for the funding which is complicated because the Government requires a certain element of risk to be transferred to the private sector. Therefore the return for the investor will be at least partly dependent on the number of passengers using the line.

Brian Abbott, the DLR's press officer, is confident that it will be built: "There has been a lot of interest and we are confident that a scheme can be drawn up."

The new section of the DLR to Beckton, opened late last year carries only 2,000 passengers per day partly because trains are only able to run to Poplar from where a shuttle service operates to Canary Wharf.

In contrast to the rest of the DLR, the extension to Beckton has been built before any development in the Royal Docks, the area it is intended to serve, has taken place. This has led to criticism that it is a white elephant which shows that either way the planners just can't win. Either they put in the infrastructure first and no one uses it initially, or they put it in afterwards when it is considered too late.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker