The London ghost town that could be brought to life if £2 billion tunnel is ever built

Traders have called for a controversial new tunnel to be built to help a “ghost town” in East London.

The Silvertown Tunnel will connect North Greenwich to the Royal Docks in Newham by giving cars a new path to cross between North and South London.

Transport for London accounts state that the huge tunnel will cost almost £2.2 billion over the next 25 years.

TfL has already paid £56 million to build the tunnel, though the scheme is still in its early stages and digging is yet to start.

Drivers going through the tunnel will have to pay a toll which is planned to cover its building and operational costs.

The group added that the taxpayer would have to spend at least £174 million to build the tunnel, with the rest paid to its developers.

Bar owner Dariq Imam said he saw ‘no adverse effects’ from the Silvertown Tunnel

Maurizio Royal Docks

Maurizio said that he supported more funding for public transport but that extra parking was needed for the Royal Docks

TfL said the new tunnel would help reduce congestion and improve transport links in the area.

TfL added that it will lessen pressure on the Blackwall Tunnel, which runs between Greenwich and Tower Hamlets.

Campaigners have called for the tunnel to be scrapped, arguing that it will increase the amount of traffic and pollution in East London.

However, local businesses next to where the tunnel is under construction argued that it was needed to revive the economy in the Royal Docks.

Dariq Imam, who runs the So bar on the waterfront of the Royal Victoria Dock, said: “I think it will be somewhat positive – I don’t think it’s got any adverse effects.

“Most [business] is at the weekend, but during the week around here this place is a ghost town.

“Because they are all new in this area so people don’t know to come here.”

Ilona, duty manager at the Sunborn Yacht Hotel, which sits on one of the docks, said that the Silvertown tunnel would be a great improvement.

She said: “To be honest I think it’s a great idea. More tunnels, more bridges, more ways to get around the city.

“The only problem with traffic is that lots of people are wasting their time sitting there, so the question is how to make it easier to get to the place you want to go.”

Although many welcomed more people driving and walking through the area, some said that it would have to mean improving the already-limited parking.

Royal Docks

Business owners say the Silvertown tunnel is needed to revive the economy of the quiet royal docks

Manager of the Top Forever restaurant Maria Migle said that the tunnel would mean more customers from the 02 arena and ExCel centre, but that parking was still an issue.

She said: “I don’t see how it could be negative. When a lot of shows are on it’s good business.

“Mostly the problem is parking so people choose not to drive. There’s enough public transport. Parking is the biggest issue – in this area you can’t park anywhere.”

Maurizio, who works at a hotel in the area, shared this concern about how more traffic could impact parking.

He said: “There’s no parking here. It would be easier for our customers to get a taxi – at the moment’s it’s by cable car or you have to go all the way around. I am always for more public transport, less pollution.

“When [guests] call us they enquire about parking and we say we have no parking and ask them to use public transport.

“It would be good to have more parking space for the shops across the road, not just for us.”

Laura Carlig

Restaurant manager Laura Carlig said that the new Crossrail station would also be a boost for the East London town

Laura Carlig, manager at the Zero Sette Italian restaurant in the Royal Docks, said that the Silvertown Tunnel might not be as important as the new Crossrail station at Custom House.

She said: “It might not be so much with driving, but when Crossrail opens that will have more impact on bringing people here.”

Environmental campaigners have argued that the Silvertown Tunnel will mean more cars travelling through an already highly-polluted area.

Dominic Leggett of the Stop The Silvertown Tunnel Coalition said: “What it’s going to do is it’s going to divert 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day through Newham rather than through the Blackwall Tunnel.

“Newham is already the most polluted borough in London, the most polluted borough in the UK, and what they’re doing is diverting a bunch of traffic from Tower Hamlets into Newham.”

TfL has completed the tunnel’s first phase of construction which will allow tunelling under the Thames to begin soon. The Silvertown Tunnel is expected to open in 2025.

A spokesperson for TfL said: “The Silvertown Tunnel will provide a public transport-focused river crossing with improved bus links across the Thames.

“Once open, the tolled crossing, which is within the Ultra Low Emission Zone, will also reduce congestion and improve the reliability and resilience of the Blackwall Tunnel, which will improve overall air quality in the local area – which is currently among the most toxic in London due to high levels of tunnel congestion.”

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