Havering council is working on a local transport plan which could include a monorail service linking various parts of the borough.
Speaking at the Thames Estuary Development Conference, the Chief Executive of Havering Council, Andrew Blake-Herbert said that the borough is looking at improving local transport options, and a monorail is one of the options being considered.
Like most boroughs around the edges of London, the public and main road transport links through Havering are of the spoke design, flowing into the centre of the city, and out of the suburbs. There’s little however in sideways public transport options. A short London Overground link runs between Romford and Upminster, but buses aside, that’s pretty much it.
That makes local journeys harder, hampering local development and economic growth while forcing public transport users into lengthy journeys into central London and back out again.
Which is one of the reasons why he said that Havering also has the highest level of car ownership in London.
The council has therefore been looking for a public transport alternative that will tie the borough together along the North-South routes, and one of the options could be a monorail.
There have been various suggestions of a tram or monorail for Havering for some years to improve the north-south connections. In 2006, a monorail was mooted as being a way to address the transportation problem., although some councillors thought the cost may be prohibitive.
More recently, the Havering Local Plan 2016-2031 called for improvements in the north-south axis, although it only mentioned light rail, tram or guided bus schemes, not a monorail.
A report setting out high level route options for a north/south tram link has been commissioned, and further discussions are due to be held with TfL following completion of initial feasibility study.
At the Thames Estuary Development conference, Andrew Blake-Herbert confirmed that the council is working on a plan for either a “tram or monorail bringing together that connectivity opening up the 3rd largest London borough with regeneration opportunities”
It wouldn’t be the first time a monorail has been considered for London though, as there was a serious attempt in 1967 to replace central London buses with an elevated monorail service.
Although Havering’s own monorail has been discussed a number of times, it’s more likely that a tram or guided bus route would get the go ahead.
While a monorail is “sexy”, and that in itself can be a substantial help in regenerating an area, as the driverless DLR undoubtedly helped to define the Docklands area and make the area appealing to live and work in, the higher costs involved makes it less likely to be approved.
A tram service would be much more viable, and offer many of the benefits of the monorail, without the risks and higher costs.
A report from 2018 suggested that a light-rail or tram service could take over the short London Overground link between Romford and Upminster, with spurs northwards towards Collier Row and Harold Hill, and another spur heading southwards to Rainham and the planned Beam Park development.
A project like this could be built in stages, and would be of a similar design to the Croydon tram service which used a mix of railway lines and roads to connect various parts of South London.
If built, it would tie currently disconnected parts of one of London’s largest boroughs together, and as with Croydon’s trams, put the area firmly on the tube map as well.
A tram is more likely than a monorail, as it ticks the realistically affordable transport box, even if almost everyone would love a monorail, regardless of how expensive it would be to deliver.