Tram network proposal to link south Essex

Fresh details have been revealed over multi-million pound plans for a new tram network linking key points across south Essex.

The 20-year project would criss-cross Southend from Rochford and Rayleigh and travel along the seafront from Leigh Station to Shoebury Station and onwards to Great Wakering.

The move forms part of an ambitious project spearheaded by the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, a powerful group considering plans for the future.

Ron Woodley, Southend Council’s deputy leader, said: “We want to make sure we are connected to Rayleigh and Rochford then along the seafront.

“We can start from Rayleigh and go to Great Wakering along the seafront.

“That would stop all the speeding cars if they get stuck behind a tram.

“We couldn’t do it all at once.

“We would start at a certain point and then stop until we got more funds. It would be a 20-year programme but unless you put ideas like this forward you are never going to get anywhere.”

North to south routes would go from Rayleigh High Street to Nestuda Way, Southend and on to Chalkwell Park with a stop to Southend Hospital.

A route would also start from Rochford Square to Southend Airport and on to Victoria Station.

West to east routes would start in Hadleigh through London Road to Shoebury and Great Wakering.

Another would start at Leigh rail station and head to Shoebury station linking with the tram line for Wakering.

All the routes link at various points and could be linked to park-and-ride schemes to ease congestion and encourage day trippers.

Cllr Woodley added: “Of course this would require a great deal of Government funding, however without a plan nothing happens. It is always beneficial to have a plan.”

Jon Fuller, from South East Essex Friends of the Earth, questioned the plans and said more information was needed.

He said: “I am very sceptical about the motives behind these proposals.

“I totally support having trams in south east Essex but my fear is that when the A130 was constructed some councillors said they would add extra space for a tram line in the future but they eventually widened it to three lanes instead so I’m very mistrustful.

“The A127 could be widened on the pretext of using it for trams. I’m all for more public transport but I’ll believe this when I see it.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter