Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Socialist planners at work

"More than 1 billion pounds has been wasted by the [U.K.] Government on transport projects that have been cancelled or delayed, leaving roads and railways struggling to cope with huge growth in traffic.... The Government has repeatedly claimed that rising costs have made new road links, tram networks and rail upgrades unaffordable. But official figures uncovered by the Conservatives reveal that more than 1 billion has already been spent since 2000 without providing any extra capacity.

The most expensive single scheme on the list of stalled projects is Crossrail, the plan for mainline rail tunnels under Central London to relieve congestion on the Central Line. It has cost 254 million since 2001 without an inch of tunnel being dug. The Government has yet to commit itself to fund the 16 billion project and officials privately admit that, even if it goes ahead, it may not be ready until 2020.

Almost 300 million has been spent preparing for tram schemes in Portsmouth, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester that have either been cancelled or greatly reduced in scope. In 2000 John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, promised 25 new tram lines by 2010. So far two have opened: in Nottingham and the London City Airport extension of the Docklands Light Railway. The Thameslink 2000 project to upgrade the north-south rail route across London was due to open six years ago but is unlikely to be ready for another decade.

More than 80 million has been spent on preparatory works at St Pancras, including tunnels that will be boarded up and a station that will remain half-empty. Another white elephant is Stratford International Station, in East London, which cost 210 million but might never be used by the Eurostar trains for which it was built."

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