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New tramline gathers speed

14:16 26 February 2009

Brent Cross railway map

Brent Cross railway map

Susanna Wilkey A CAMPAIGN to build a new tramline linking West Hampstead with Brent Cross, Hendon and Ealing is rapidly gathering steam. Although in the early stage of development, campaigners hope the light rail, or electric tram, will ease road congesti

Susanna Wilkey

A CAMPAIGN to build a new tramline linking West Hampstead with Brent Cross, Hendon and Ealing is rapidly gathering steam.

Although in the early stage of development, campaigners hope the light rail, or electric tram, will ease road congestion as well as reduce climate change.

It would provide West Hampstead residents with a link to the new £4billion Brent Cross Cricklewood development as well as a new orbital route around north London.

West Hampstead councillor John Bryant said: "I think this is definitely something worth encouraging because the tramline would improve public transport in West Hampstead.

"And if it could link up with the Thameslink station, that would be a huge benefit. It also provides further ammunition to make more progress with the interchange.

"The Brent Cross development will put a huge number of extra cars on the road and this would go some way to alleviating the problem.

"The scheme also plans to use existing freight rail lines so would not involve a huge amount of capital investment - it is just about getting the carriages."

The scheme is the brainchild of the London Campaign for Better Transport.

Chairman Norman Beddington said: "Developers say there will be 29,000 extra vehicle movements a day [with the Brent Cross Cricklewood development] and we think this will lead to a considerable amount of congestion, so we are trying to get this as part of the community benefits of the scheme.

"The tram will reduce emissions and cut down the number of cars on the road. This network would provide an orbital link right from Hendon to Ealing and it would be fulfilling a great need to travel across London instead of always to the centre."

West Hampstead residents say the tram must fit in with plans for the £4billion regeneration project, currently being considered by Barnet Council.

The scheme is set to transform the Brent Cross area, creating a new town centre, 27,000 jobs, 500 homes, three schools, new health facilities, parks and more than £400million of investment to improve transport.

But residents are concerned the transport plans have not been properly thought through.

Virginia Berridge, chairwoman of West Hampstead Amenity and Transport, said: "We would be prepared to think about the tram system but it has to be considered in terms of the overall transport in the Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme.

"We welcome the focus on public transport in the scheme but as bus services will be the main form of transport we would urge developers to provide more bus routes and bus-only lanes in the vicinity of the development."

Barnet Council is not supporting the tram idea.

And Brian Coleman, London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, said: "It's not feasible, it won't happen. Ideas like this are thought up by men who probably still have a train set in the attic.

"Trams are yesterday's news and they do not belong in Barnet. The whole thing is bonkers."

Jonathan Joseph, development director for the Brent Cross Cricklewood Development Partners, said: "We have had a number of discussions with the promoters of a light rail scheme and will continue to engage with them, although of course there are a large number of issues for them to resolve right across north London.

"In the meantime, the plans that we have to connect Brent Cross Cricklewood with the rest of London are exemplary and deliverable and we will be devoting considerable energies to pursuing them.

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