'Ken has come to his senses'

THE controversial West London Tram scheme has been shelved by London Mayor Ken Livingstone in a dramatic u-turn.

Mayor Livingstone, who has been dogmatic in his pursuit of the West London Tram proposal, has joined Ealing Council leader Jason Stacey by announcing that a bus solution would now be pursued instead.

The tram scheme, which has already cost taxpayers £24.5million through consultation processes, is due to be scrapped in favour of the Crossrail project - a new high-frequency railway across Central London, with stations planned for Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton.

Mayor Ken said it would be more practical for buses to run between Uxbridge and Shepherd's Bush once the Crossrail project was up and running.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary, Susan Kramer MP said: "I'm delighted that Ken Livingstone has come to his senses. The West London tram scheme was an idea that always sounded interesting on paper but daft in practice.

"It would have disrupted local high streets and diverted traffic onto residential roads. Transport for London and the Mayor have to learn to listen to local residents in future."

Im delighted that Ken Livingstone has come to his senses. The West London tram scheme was an idea that always sounded interesting on paper but daft in practice.

Susan Kramer MP

Ealing Council opposed the £650m tram scheme, proposed by Transport for London (TfL) in 2001, amid concerns of increased congestion and a downturn in trade.

In a joint statement released by Jason Stacey and Ken Livingstone, Mayor Ken said: "The construction of Crossrail will mean a massive improvement in public transport capacity serving West London.

"I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with Ealing Council to work together along these lines to deliver the best solution for people in this part of west London.

"A positive decision on Crossrail will mean that substantially improved bus services become a practical alternative to a tram along the Uxbridge Road to meet the need for more public transport, boost the local economy and to deal with rising congestion in the area."

Jason Stacey, who has always been opposed to the tram, said: "Residents have overwhelmingly expressed the view that the proposed West London Tram was not the answer to the area's transport problems.

"Ealing's traffic problems require different solutions and we will be working constructively with TfL to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the borough."

The Crossrail project is expected to be completed by 2015. In the interim the Mayor and Ealing Council have agreed to work with other London boroughs to deliver an improved bus priority system along Uxbridge Road.

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