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Orbital Line idea spins round again after 40 years

PUBLISHED: 01:05 01 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:09 05 October 2010

A TOWN planning 'think tank' is revising ideas to extend the London Underground with a new 'outer Circle' line in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics. The planners are confident the £2 billion scheme could work, if it got Parliamentary approval once Crossrail is out of the way

A TOWN planning 'think tank' is revising ideas to extend the London Underground with a new 'outer Circle' line in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

The planners are confident the £2 billion scheme could work, if it got Parliamentary approval once Crossrail was out of the way.

It would link London City Airport to the Stratford Games site, the Lower Lee Valley, Tottenham, Willesden Junction, Hammersmith, Battersea Heliport, Clapham Junction and Lewisham in one big giant loop, using mostly existing tracks.

The only new section would be deep-level twin tunnels under the Thames between City Airport and Charlton to complete London's new 'Orbital Line.'

"Ninety per cent of the infrastructure is already out there," said a spokesman.

"All it needs is the political willpower to get London on the move.

"This scheme is eco-friendly and takes good public rail transport out to the suburbs beyond the Congestion Zone where there is still too much dependence on the motor car."

The scheme is loosely modelled on an earlier 'Orbital' scheme first mooted in 1970, although stretching further into the suburbs, and also incorporates ideas from the original 'River Line' proposal when the London Docklands development got under way the same year.

The revival of an 'orbital' rail is seen as reducing London's C02 emissions still further by 2012.

The proposed line would run from City Airport 'express' alongside the DLR to Canning Town where it would 'share tracks' with the Jubilee to Stratford, then loop round to the new International Eurostar station opening in 2010 and run along the Lee Valley main line to the 'Tottenham curve' where it would take over part of the Gospel Oak line.

The Orbital Line would use the existing Hampstead rail tunnel, with a new station at Rosslyn Hill, to West Hampstead, Willesden Junction and South Acton, then use the old Gunnersbury curve to join the District Line to Hammersmith, switch to the existing Clapham Junction line at West Brompton to cross the river, with new stops at Chelsea Harbour and Battersea Heliport.

It would switch at Clapham junction to existing lines through Balham, Tulse Hill, Peckham Rye, Lewisham and Carlton, with a new station at Westcombe Hill, then into a tunnel under the river just west of the Thames Flood Barrier to City Airport.

Journey time east-west across London is estimated at 40 minutes, saving 25 minutes compared to overcrowded routes through the City and West End.

The whole scheme is reckoned to take just four years to complete, with nine-tenths of the orbital route already in use.

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