London SE1 website team

Borough Market rail viaduct: decision due next summer

The future of Borough Market will be determined when the government decides whether or not to fund the Thameslink rail scheme next summer.

Thameslink images
Images of the proposed new stations at Blackfriars and London Bridge, and a new glazed market hall on Borough High Street

Planning permission for the much-delayed Thameslink scheme (formerly Thameslink 2000) was granted in October but the government has not yet decided whether to fund the project.

The railway line through Borough Market is a notorious capacity bottleneck and a new viaduct across the market is a key element of the Thameslink scheme. But many locals oppose the demolition of so many listed buildings and fear that the railway will destroy the character of the area.

Junior transport minister Tom Harris made a written statement to the House of Commons this week revealing that his department is giving Network Rail an additional 30 million to "improve the robustness of the plans and cost estimates" for the 3.5 billion cross-London rail scheme.

"This will enable a more informed decision to be made regarding the case for funding the implementation of the project in summer 2007," says the minister.

"It also safeguards the opportunity to deliver the first set of outputs of the Thameslink modernisation scheme by December 2011. This funding is being granted without prejudice to the final decision on the funding of the scheme."

Southwark Green Party councillor and London Assembly member Jenny Jones welcomed the news, but sounded a note of caution about the impact on the Borough: "We desperately need increased investment in public transport so this announcement and the implication that the Thameslink upgrade is likely to be given the green light next year is good news."

"However there is a clear need for the in-depth feasibility study to investigate the benefits of routing the upgrade through the Elephant and Castle. Significant changes have occurred since this option was last looked at and the major advantages it would entail demand serious examination.

"The Elephant and Castle option would avoid the damage to the historic character of the Borough area and the thriving market that the current proposals entail.

"The public transport and environmental benefits to the Elephant and Castle option are also clear cut. This route would link up with the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle and the Cross River Tram and would also enable a high frequency service from a re-opened Camberwell station which would bring a high quality rail service to this area which is otherwise greatly under-serviced by public transport."

The Save the Borough Market Area Campaign continues to raise awareness of the impact of the Thameslink plans on the market and collect signatures on a petition both online and face-to-face with market shoppers.

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