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

TWO MAJOR transport schemes, the Waterloo terminal for the Channel tunnel and the Limehouse road link in Docklands, are being opened in London today, but both are already being labelled 'white elephants' by critics.

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.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US