Give London a world-class Tube: Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: As ward councillor for Clerkenwell, I share Hamish McRae's satisfaction that the inner city population decline is being halted by warehouse or office conversions to "loft apartments". But this doesn't necessarily mean "no need for a Tube: you can walk to work." One of the interesting phenomena of the future may be reverse commuting, with people preferring to live centrally because they enjoy the shopping and entertainment facilities and city buzz, but not tied to working there.

He also predicts a multi-centred region with strong "centres" on the fringe. If Croydon and Hammersmith become "new cultural magnets as well as office centres", it is entirely conceivable that my constituent who lives in the shadow of Smithfield market will travel to Hammersmith to the theatre.

I entirely accept that needless, polluting, energy-consuming and unpleasant travel should be curbed, but I am wary of the Green argument that all travel is inherently bad. Travel to expand horizons by seeing new things and meeting new people is a liberating thing to do. Personally, I love rocketing along in a fast Tube train. I even don't mind sometimes when it's crowded; it reminds me I'm in a real city. And, crucially, it keeps me out of a car. Hamish McRae risks giving comfort to the road lobby by his rejection of the "Victorian invention".


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