The London Mayor has finally thrown his support behind a range of river crossings in east London, including the controversial Silvertown Tunnel and a new ferry link between the Isle of Dogs and the Greenwich Peninsula.

Read more Why it's time to get going with east London's river crossings

Sadiq Khan has been mulling over the challenge of keeping the east moving since he was appointed to City Hall – now he has stepped forward with an ambitious package which, he says, will grow business, unlock land for housing and boost public and green transport.

Included in the package is the pedestrian and cycling bridge linking Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, a DLR extension to Thamesmead from Gallions Reach and a link between Barking Riverside and Abbey Wood.

If the plans go-ahead – and there is a 10-year time frame announced – it would mean possibly two new links to the Isle of Dogs, reducing congestion on other routes and complementing the new Crossrail station.

Mayor Sadiq Khan

Canary Wharf is expected to double in size with the development of its second phase while the Isle of Dogs has seen a spike in the number of tower blocks under construction with transport services under pressure.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It’s no secret that London has long needed more river crossings in the east. With new homes and economic growth across East London, it becomes even more important that we deliver new greener transport links that allow Londoners to cross the river quickly and more easily.

Read more Reaction to new east London river crossings

“But we don’t want these to have a damaging impact on our environment, and that’s why I’ve reviewed and improved plans for Silvertown Tunnel and why I’m pushing forward with crossings that encourage public transport, walking and cycling.

“As we continue to unlock the massive economic potential of East London, we must secure the very best transport infrastructure that improves the quality of life for everyone living and working in the area.”

The package makes no mention of a road bridge at Gallions Reach. This was mentioned as part of Boris Johnson's East London River Crossings Package and there have been consultations. It would have been developed in tandem with a bridge at Belvedere but it appears it has been overtaken by the DLR extension at more or less the same location as well as the Barking Riverside Overground Extension.

Silvertown Tunnel

CGI of the Silvertown Tunnel as it rises in the north bank

The Silvertown Tunnel is the most controversial of the options as it increases the road space in the capital, with the likely impact on pollution.

The No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign group have greeted the news with anger, calling it a “betrayal”.

Chair Anne Robbins said: “For Sadiq Khan to call this a ‘greener Silvertown Tunnel’ hides the fact that Greenwich and the Royal Docks would become a dumping ground for the south of England’s congestion and pollution.

“He talks a good game when it comes to pollution and congestion in central London, but communities in east and south east London clearly don’t seem to matter as much. They will be living with even worse traffic and poorer air.”

“Khan promised a full review of the tunnel, but has made no attempt to reach out to those who’ll have to live with the consequences if his scheme is given the go-ahead.”

The Mayor argues that congestion and air quality will get worse around the Blackwall Tunnel and its companion will keep traffic moving more freely as well as provide a reliable link for jobs and services. It is due to open in 2023 and will carry a user fee.

The Mayor has also signalled an intention to attempt to mitigate the potential for air pollution impacts including bus concessions for residents, buses that carry cycles while there will be curbs on vehicles during the construction phase.

Rotherhite-Canary Wharf cycle link

Artist's impression of how the bridge could look

The Mayor is seeking an acceleration of the planned pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe, a manifesto commitment and one likely to receive universal support.

The new bridge will make it easier for people south of the river to link to Cycle Superhighway 3 – the East-West Cycle Superhighway – as well as provide people north of the river better access to the Thames Path and planned cycle routes throughout Southwark.

TfL will examine the best design for this busy stretch of the Thames assessing whether a bascule or swing style bridge could be more suitable. The new bridge could be open by as soon as 2020.

Gallions Reach DLR extension

The Mayor has instructed TfL to push ahead with a new DLR link from Gallions Reach, east of the Royal Docks towards Thamesmead. This will be aimed at supporting new housing developments and air quality by improving conditions for walking and cycling.

The new crossings would be the seventh extension in the network’s 29 year history and would help support development of around 17,000 new homes across Newham and the Royal Borough of Greenwich in the next 10 years.

Canary Wharf-Isle of Dogs ferry

The Ernest Bevin free Woolwich ferry
The Ernest Bevin free Woolwich ferry

The Mayor has asked TfL to look at developing a new ferry between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich, which will help support new developments on the Greenwich Peninsula and the Isle of Dogs, as well as reduce demand on the Jubilee line at key times.

Read more Woolwich free ferry service gets a reprieve


TfL will look to source the majority of funding for these crossings through third-party developer contributions and via existing Community Infrastructure Levies. On current estimates, these new crossings, along with the future Elizabeth line, could all be delivered within the next five to 10 years, rebalancing the historic lack of river crossings in this part of London.