Eltham DLR plans hang on a tightrope

At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting Greenwich Council’s Labour Cabinet agreed to commission a further study to consider the feasibility of extending the Docklands Light Railway to Eltham. 


The Cabinet meeting heard from Council Officers about the difficulties of the proposed route following the A2 after crossing the Thames on the Greenwich Peninsula.  Some of the problems mentioned by the Cabinet included the requirement to narrow the lanes of the A2 to accommodate the elevated railway, getting around junctions like the Sun in the Sands and the reconstruction of the Woolwich Road flyover to support the DLR.  The scheme is estimated to cost £1bn.


Having spent two years producing this initial study, Hyder Consulting was recommissioned by the Cabinet to produce a further study.  On the bright side financially, as this report only cost £25,000 when the budget was £70,000, the new report will be £45,000 meaning that there will be no extra spending beyond the original budget. 


Leader of Greenwich Conservatives and Eltham North Councillor Spencer Drury attended the meeting and asked what other routes had been considered and how the decision to focus on the A2 had been arrived at.  The answer appeared to be that no other routes had been considered, but they might be as part of the new study. 


Spencer said “While I would love to see the DLR extended to Eltham, I am forced to question how realistic this plan is at a time of austerity.  While I do accept that this plan is designed to start a discussion, the fact it has taken two years to get to the stage where yet another study needs to be commissioned suggests that this project is not a priority for the Council.  Personally I view this pie-in-the-sky train-in-the-sky as a piece of window dressing which suggests Labour cares about Eltham but actually involves very little other than some honeyed words.”


One ironic point about the plans is that Transport for London’s plans have been set for the next five years and Council Officers accept that little can be done within that time frame.  Hence a decision to bring the DLR to Eltham will have to be made by the Mayor of London after May 2012's elections and Labour’s candidate has promised to slash investment spending to lower tube fares – something which means Eltham residents get no benefit in terms of fares from our station but also rules out any prospect of a new train line to Eltham whatever Greenwich Council choose to do.