Trams will return to streets of central London by 2011

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The Independent Online

Some 50 years after trams were banished from central London to make way for the car, they are to return to cut congestion in a £500m scheme to be announced today.

Some 50 years after trams were banished from central London to make way for the car, they are to return to cut congestion in a £500m scheme to be announced today.

The Cross River Transit, one of two new tram routes to be opened by 2011, will link north and south London along existing roads. Once completed, it will run south from Camden and King's Cross to Peckham and Brixton. A west London line will run from Uxbridge to Shepherd's Bush.

Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, has given approval for the tramlines as part of a strategy to coax motorists on to public transport. Up to 122 million passengers each year are expected to use the network, which will be funded by public and private finance.

The Mayor's controversial congestion-charging plan, to be introduced in February, has led to complaints that there is not enough public transport to take the extra passengers. He said: "I will be talking to the Government about how to speed up the planning process to enable these schemes to be delivered even more rapidly."

The Cross River scheme will see trams run along some of London's best-known roads, including Kingsway and Aldwych, before crossing the Thames at Waterloo Bridge. Two branch lines will then run to Brixton and Peckham. The west London line will link Acton, Ealing, Hanwell and Southall.

As well as cutting congestion, the new tram routes area intended to help regenerate deprived areas of the capital. Two new bus routes are also being launched in east London.

The decision to introduce the new trams follows the success of the Croydon link in south London.

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