East London Line

The East London Line is a vital transport link for many in East London, taking them across the Thames from Whitechapel to New Cross and New Cross Gate. The northern section to Shoreditch closed down a while back, and just before Christmas, the whole line is to shut for a lengthy period, opening as an extended service from Dalston Junction to Crystal Palace and West Croydon in 2010 (and adding Highbury & Islington in 2011.)

Although the extension is good news (and involves a fairly huge amount of public spending, although almost all of it is along existing routes), there is also bad news, that when it re-opens it will have been privatised, with 8 different contracts. The RMT union isn’t pleased, as the extended line will pay staff less and give them worsened conditions; it also thinks that there are safety implications of the sharing of signalling between London Underground and Network Rail.

Last Thursday they demonstrated against the privatisation outside City Hall, on the riverside next to Tower Bridge, with a coffin representing publicly owned railways, undertakers and a jazz band as well as various banners. It wasn’t a huge event – most of their members will have been at work, and there were perhaps a hundred there, but a lively parade circled City Hall several times before a short rally.

Transport for London have provided some replacement services, but nothing for the most important part of the line, going across the river between Wapping and Rotherhithe. The feeble excuse is that the can’t get the right kind of buses to go through the Rotherhithe tunnel.

Until closure the journey will take you one minute. Afterwards the alternative routes suggested by the TfL web site usually take around an hour. If you were going to and from work that could mean an extra couple of hours a day. However can they think that is satisfactory?

More pictures of course on My London Diary.

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