CONSTRUCTION of the latest Docklands Light Railway extension to London City Airport is expected to start by the end of the year, after transport secretary Stephen Byers gave it the go ahead this week.
A concessionaire will be appointed in the summer to design, build and maintain the £115M, 4.4km line that will branch off the DLR at Canning Town and run on to London City Airport and north Greenwich.
At present, there are no direct rail links to the airport and passengers have to use shuttle buses from nearby DLR and main line rail stations. When the extension is complete, Bank will be 21 minutes away and Canary Wharf 14 minutes.
The project was first proposed in 1997. The government gave the go ahead for planning of the new route in 1998. A public inquiry concluded in November 2000 that a strong case for the scheme had been established and that it should be approved.
This week, Byers confirmed that verdict: 'I agree with the inquiry inspector that the need to extend the DLR to serve London City Airport and the communities surrounding it has been established beyond doubt.
The project will be partially financed through a £30M grant from government and grants from beneficiaries including London City Airport.
The concessionaire will provide the rest of the cash itself.
The new line is expected to be in service by 2005.