Transport schemes labelled 'white elephants': The Channel tunnel terminal at Waterloo and the Limehouse road link to Docklands are opening in London today. Christian Wolmar reports
Monday 17 May 1993
The pounds 130m Waterloo International terminal will spend at least its first year unused because not only is the fitting out of the tunnel nowhere near finished, but the trains are not built.
European Passenger Services (EPS), the BR subsidiary which will operate the British cross-channel trains, does not expect services to start until next summer and can give no precise date.
The station, which has five platforms, each a quarter of a mile long, is an elegant building designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and containing pounds 1m of Italian-designed station furniture. It will gradually build up to its full use of four arrivals and departures per hour.
However, the terminal's long-term future has been put in doubt by the decision to build the terminal of the Channel tunnel rail link in north London, probably at St Pancras. Journeys to Waterloo will take at least 15 minutes longer from the tunnel and be subject to the vagaries of using track shared with Network SouthEast.
A spokesman for EPS said that capacity will be such that St Pancras will not be able to take all the trains. But John Prideaux, chairman of Union Railways, the BR subsidiary which is designing the link, has indicated that most trains will go to St Pancras and some experts reckon that Waterloo will be used only for a handful of regular trains and special excursions.
Rail magazine says: 'Short-sightedness and muddling by politicians, civil servants and some sections of BR has cast a shadow over this inspirational building.'
The 1.1 mile-long Limehouse Link, costing pounds 345m including the land and rehousing for 600 families, is the most expensive stretch of road in Britain. Its opening completes the 7-mile Docklands Highway which cost a further pounds 400m.
The road scheme is a core part of the London Docklands Development Corporation's regeneration policy. However, the Docklands bubble of the late 1980s has burst leaving, according to the consultants Applied Property Research, 55 per cent of the 9.6 million square feet of office space empty on the Isle of Dogs, where the road goes.
Canary Wharf, the centrepiece of the whole Docklands development, has let barely a third of its space, causing the developers Olympia & York to go into receivership. Several tenants are now seeking to break their leases.
The roads were drawn up around optimistic employment predictions. In 1988, the LDDC said there would be 114,000 jobs by now. In fact, by April last year there were 63,500 with a growth rate of around 5,000 per year.
With office prices now down to around pounds 8- pounds 9 per square foot, compared with three or four times that level during the boom, few new developments can be expected before the turn of the decade, leaving the road underused except for commuters passing through on their way to the City.
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Terrorism explanation 'cannot be ruled out', says CIA
Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Bad cattitude: Family call police after crazed and 'hostile cat with a history of violence' attacks baby before attempting to 'flee custody'
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: One of the largest mobile advert...
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client specialises in creati...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Private Cli...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residential...