CITY OF London engineers this week launched a drive to build a tram link to the captal's Square Mile in a bid to ease congestion on the area's busy public transport system.
Planners at the City of London Corporation's strategic transport team said a tram system would relieve the overcrowded Northern and Victoria Underground lines.
The line would also soak up rising transport demand until bigger projects were built.
There is still uncertainty about whether major railway schemes like Crossrail, Thameslink 2000 and the East London Line extension will go ahead.
'A tram scheme would cost much less, ' said the Corporation.
An initial proposal for a street running line from Battersea to Hackney, via Vauxhall, Elephant & Castle, Bishopsgate and Shoreditch, is estimated at £260M with a £9M annual operating cost.
'The corporation has already used priority bus routing but this would be a step change in capacity, ' said Corporation of London transport team leader Andy Phipps.
The Corporation is pushing for the scheme following completion of a feasibility study by transport consultant Jacobs.
The consultant is now completing a detailed analysis of the route as the third phase in its study, which is reporting later this year.
The scheme is expected to stimulate investment in a number of redevelopment areas, including Elephant & Castle and the potential Olympic sites near to Hackney.
It also ties into the Cross River Transit scheme being sponsored by a group of London boroughs and the Mayor's Transport for London department under the Cross River Partnership umbrella.