Watch out for the trams

EAST Anglia's commuters and visitors to London may be able to board a continental-style tramway when they reach Liverpool Street – but probably not for another 15 years.

EAST Anglia's commuters and visitors to London may be able to board a continental-style tramway when they reach Liverpool Street – but probably not for another 15 years.

If all goes to plan, once the east London tram network is up and running, two lines will be added to the East Anglia main line terminus in a joint venture between the City of London Corporation and Transport for London.

One line will be routed from The Oval and Elephant and Castle, crossing the Thames via either Southwark or London Bridges, then through the City to Liverpool Street and Bishopsgate.

The second will be from Liverpool Street to Oxford Street, crossing at Holborn the main 19-kilometre route from King's Cross/Camden Town to Waterloo and Brixton/Peckham.


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The £300million Cross River Tram is expected to open in time for Christmas 2009, using lines across Waterloo Bridge. Euston station, Russell Square, Holborn, Aldwych and Covent Garden will all have tram stations, as will South Bank, Waterloo station, the Imperial War Museum and Albert Square (between Oval and Stockwell in Lambeth).

The London trams will join others either in operation already or being planned in Croydon, Greater Manchester, Newcastle/Sunderland, Leicester, Bristol, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Reading/Wokingham/Bracknell, Greater Portsmouth, and a completely revamped Blackpool network.

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And now, enter the bendy bus. These hinged, extra long single deck vehicles are now becoming a common sight on London's streets. The latest routes to be taken over is 453 and night service N453 from Marylebone Station to Deptford Broadway, which scythe their way through the heart of the capital serving Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Westminster.

But beware – bendy buses are cashless. Tickets have to be bought, continental-style, from machines on the pavement and then validated on board.

n It's a huge shame that First Group – owners of Great Eastern Railways – was not allowed to bid for the new Greater Anglia rail franchise. GER's decision to run commuter trains from Ipswich doubled the number of services from Suffolk and for that reason alone, it should have been recognised by the Strategic Rail Authority for the huge benefits it brought to the county.

The competition for the new franchise is now between GB Railways (owners of Anglia), Stagecoach, and Arriva Trains. Whoever wins will have to decide what priority is given to current InterCity services. Effectively, Anglia charges a premium fare for the added comfort its carriages provide over suburban trains – when there is just one operator, will that continue when new rolling stock is introduced?

And consideration should be given to upgrading the main morning and evening commuter service from Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea – it's time to bring back the Essex Coast Express!

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