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All aboard the bandwagon

London mayoral campaign

Transport is a hot topic for all of the main candidates fighting it out to become London mayor.

BATTLE WILL continue among London's mayoral candidates until election day next Thursday.

The new mayor will set policies on transport, policing, emergency planning and economic development for the capital.

These will be implemented through the Greater London Authority (GLA) and subsidiary departments like Transport for London (TfL). Local Authorities around the country can be expected to pick up some of these policies. This year's GLA budget was £7.5bn.

Ken Livingstone: Labour

Labour cast him out, but Ken Livingstone, London's incumbent mayor, is back in the party fold. In terms of transport infrastructure, Livingstone wants more.

If elected he will continue to lobby government for Crossrail to link Heathrow and Paddington to Liverpool St and east London.

He supports construction of the £450M Thames Gateway Bridge and says that the link across the Thames between Greenwich and Newham will provide a critical link to the 120,000 new homes that John Prescott wants to see built in the area. He says the bridge would have dedicated bus and cycle lanes segregated from the traffic.

The East London Line upgrade and extension are on Livingstone's wish list and the GLA has offered to take responsibility for funding it from the government to get it built.

'We will get an answer in July after the spending review, ' he says.

Livingstone plans to extend the Docklands Light Railway to City Airport, Arsenal, Woolwich, Stratford and Barking Reach.

He wants to take control of London's rail service so he can integrate fares, services and standards with the tube and buses.

'Our aim is to rescue surburban rail lines and the stations serving them from neglect, and transform them into a bright, attractive and safe part of London's transport system, ' he says.

Livingstone is not one to limit himself: he wants to extend the Croydon tramlink, introduce a west London tram and implement a guided bus scheme to link Ilford and Dagenham Dock.

He will continue to vigorously police the private consortia that maintain and operate the Tube.

Improving bus services played a big part in Livingstone's last four year strategy and he plans to continue this if he gets another term in office. He will fit CCTV onto every bus in the city and ensure all buses have full disabled access.

He will retain congestion charging and wants to extend it into Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea. However, he will suspend congestion charging between Christmas and New Year.

Simon Hughes: Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat candidate Simon Hughes is hot on examining ways to speed up track improvements on the Underground in a bid to cut overcrowding and increase train reliability. He is also keen to improve commuter rail services in the capital by sidelining the Strategic Rail Authority as the organisation responsible for developing the London rail network. Instead he plans to work out improvement directly with track operator Network Rail.

Hughes is a big fan of Crossrail and wants chancellor Gordon Brown to give the goahead to build the central Liverpool Street to Paddington section. His manifesto backs the Arup/Aecom proposal to develop the scheme to accommodate existing rail rolling stock, so trains can join it from the national network.

Suggestions that Heathrow should get a third runway will be opposed if Hughes becomes mayor. Instead, he will throw his weight behind the development of extra capacity at Stansted. In the long term he suggests that Crossrail should be used to shuttle passengers between Heathrow and Stansted.

Like Livingstone, Hughes plans to continue with the congestion charge although he does not support Livingstone's proposal to extend the charging zone.


Steve Norris: Conservative

Steve Norris is largely fighting the transport side of his campaign on the congestion charge. He wants to scrap it, on the basis that if other transport infrastructure is improved, people will be encouraged to limit car use.

As a result he backs Crossrail and plans to secure enough private finance to convince chancellor Gordon Brown of the need to put in some Treasury cash to kick start the project. Norris's Crossrail ambitions are not limited to the Paddington to Liverpool Street section. He believes the scheme should connect Heathrow to the west with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link station at Ebbsfleet in the east.

Norris supports construction of the East London Line extension, which is ready to go out to tender, but which is still awaiting a ministerial green light. He sees the scheme as a vital element of the bid to host the London Olympics.

As far as the Tube is concerned, Norris appears keen to develop a less confrontational approach to the contractors working on its £13bn privately financed upgrade.

This will be needed as he attempts to squeeze weekend maintenance windows so that he can extend services from 12.30am to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Norris wants bus companies to do more to attract passengers by making more vehicles available at peak times and by introducing flexibility to boost services when alternative transport, like the Underground, is disrupted.

He also wants to simplify complex road layouts to ease congestion and make life easier for pedestrians and cyclists.

Norris also wants Transport for London engineers to adapt traffic light sequences more closely to the needs of all road users.

Darren Johnson: Green Party

Green candidate Darren Johnson is a firm believer in public transport but staunchly opposes all road-building schemes.

He wants more people to walk or cycle to work and to discourage car use. He says London's public transport system needs a complete overhaul to make it 'reliable, affordable, safe and integrated'.

Johnson plans to do this by promoting shorter commuting distances and extending the congestion charging zone across the whole of Greater London. Congestion charges would be set for a series of concentric zones with the central zone carrying the highest charges.

'It's about trying to change people's travel patterns, ' says Johnson. He explains that if people chose to live closer to work or schools, they would be more likely to walk or cycle.

'Our transport policy is about connecting local communities in London, not just getting into central London, ' he says. This is why he puts Crossrail at the bottom of his priorities as it aims to attract longer distance commuters into London, he says.

His number one transport infrastructure priority is to complete the East London Line extension. He wants it to connect to existing lines to create an 'inner London rail orbital'.

He is also in favour of local tramlines in Ealing and between Camden and South London.

Johnson wants to stop all road projects including the proposed Thames Gateway bridge across the Thames in east London, releasing £1.2bn to be re-allocated to public transport and cycling facilities.

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