Foster unveils 'Thames Hub' proposals

A study by architects Foster+Partners and infrastructure consultancy Halcrow has recommended the construction of a four-track, high-speed passenger and freight rail route around London and a new Thames Estuary Airport.

The proposals include a new Thames Barrier Crossing integrating transport connection and energy generation
The proposals include a new Thames Barrier Crossing integrating transport connection and energy generation

The "Thames Hub" would bring together a new Thames river barrier and crossing, an international airport, and a shipping and rail complex.

The main components of the hub include:

 - A new barrier crossing intended to extend the flood protection to London and the Thames Gateway into the 22nd century. The barrier would harness tidal power to generate carbon-free energy;

 - A four-track, high-speed passenger and freight orbital rail route around London, which links London’s radial lines, a future high-speed rail line to the Midlands and the North, the Thames Estuary ports, High Speed 1 (Channel Tunnel to London), and European networks.

 - A Thames Estuary Airport, to be situated at the Isle of Grain on the Hoo Peninsula, capable of handling 150 million passengers per year. The airport would connect by rail the Thames Estuary Ports and the ports of Liverpool, Southampton and Felixstowe. Associated with the Hub is a major renewable energy source in the Estuary.

Chairman and founder of Foster + Partners Lord Foster said: "If we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond, we need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears and draw on our traditions of engineering, design and landscape.

"If we don’t then we are denying future generations to come. We are rolling over and saying we are no longer competitive – and this is a competitive world. So I do not believe we have a choice."

But the proposals have already been criticised as "daft" by a local authority. Leader of Medway Council Rodney Chambers, said: "We have looked at Lord Foster’s plan and he appears to want to place his fantasy Isle of Grain airport on top of the Liquefied Natural Gas plant and a power station. It beggars belief.

"I can only assume he has not actually left his offices and traveled from London to Medway to have a look before releasing this."

He added: "A huge new airport on or near the Thames Estuary is both unaffordable and unnecessary and the government and many airline industry giants have already said they do not support such a plan".

Thames Hub – An Integrated Vision for Britain can be read here.

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