Sunday, June 23, 2024

How trams could make huge improvements to public transport in Thurrock

PLANS to create a tram network in Thurrock, linking it to Kent via a new tunnel were centre stage at a recent major event in the public transport industry.

‘Light Years Ahead’ was a conference held in the Midlands to look at schemes for ‘light railways’ as part of Better Transport Week 2023.

One of the speakers at the summit was Gordon Pratt, Managing Director of Thames Gateway Tramlink Ltd which proposes a tram network to be known as KenEx either side of a new Thames tunnel that will have landfall in Grays.

Mr Pratt was keen to make a comparison with his scheme and the ongoing plans for a new Lower Thames Crossing. While he is not suggesting the tram network is an ‘alternative” he see it as a viable addition to public transport – and far better value.

He told the summit: “We understand that the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) will have a cost in excess of £10 billion. With £800 million already spent in planning, we can see nothing included for public transport.

“Public transport is essential in the area with many wards having less than 50% of residents having access to a car. The LTC does not meet identified local needs.”

And he stressed that local public transport connectivity weas largely ignored in the LTC scheme, adding: “We understand that local bus operators have been denied efficient and economic Thurrock – Kent route potential due to poor design of the LTC.”

Mr Pratt told the summit: “We are looking at a new tramway in the Thames estuary to connect an area which is the size of Greater Manchester. At the moment it’s difficult to get from one side of the area to another.

“In South Essex there is a demand for something like light rail, we have had meetings with the ASELA (The Association of South Essex Local Authorities) who tell us there is no space for new roads but they still need to develop new homes and new business, they tell us they really like the idea of light rail.

There is a big issue in that on the North Kent side there are more residents than there are jobs and in South Essex there are more jobs than there are residents.

“A lot of those people seeking jobs do not drive or have access to a car so it’s an area that is highly dependent on public transport. There is an essential need to make more connectivity.”

Mr Pratt’s full presentation can be heard, with active slides, via this link. He speaks at 55:45 in the recording of presentations.

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