“We may need it once a year!” The cynical keeping-open of a Kings Cross rat race track.

Over the years I had both successes and failures with TFL in personal correspondences.  One amongst others  remains unresolved.  It is the issue of Swinton Place WC1X 9NF.  Swinton Place connects Swinton Street and Acton Street, in the South of Kings Cross, and is part of the gyratory system.  Residents who live here experience  fast and noisy uni-directional  cars every day coming from two sides.

Swinton Place, which is two directional, is mostly used by rat racing drivers to switch between Swinton and Acton Street.  TFL argues that it is an essential diversion route in case either street has works, an event however that may occur only very rarely.  Less than once every two years perhaps under  my observation and mostly only during road-resurfacing

It has been put to TFL to make the street uni-directional or perhaps put a barrier in the middle.  TFL pushed the ball to Camden and Camden in talks with TFL established that it was TFL’s responsibility and that they wouldn’t want to do it so their buses and traffic could get diverted through this little street on those very rare occasions.

Our suggestion to put a barrier in place or make the street traffic reduced or even a play street would stop the rat racing as well as give local residents a tiny traffic reduced island in the midst of Kings Cross.

The barrier could be of such a type that it could be removed in cases of rare need (as claimed by TFL) for example a gate like at a level crossing or removable posts as in areas where occasional access is needed by emergency vehicles.

I have some back-dated correspondence extracts on this.  Given that TFL is beginning to listen to us Kings Cross residents on some issues, and that they announced a review of the gyratory system,  I want to make these correspondences  accessible to all now, perhaps after all Swinton Place is a little street  TFL could  finally allow to become traffic reduced.


In the ideal scenario Swinton Place would become a gated play street (allowing for car parking entering from one end), with gates removable in very rare cases passage is needed.

Full access is only needed in very rare instances, not justifying all year two directional opening of the street.


Copies of Correspondences:

DO NOT DELETE……………………….. 
DO NOT DELETE……………………….. 

Dear Owen, we last spoke in 2007 (see below).  

  • Also Swinton Place the street that connects Swinton Street and Acton Street at mid height ought to be changed into a single traffic road or one end to be closed.  Swinton Place is the constant place of rat racing and there is no need to keep it open as a two way street.  Residents in the area already suffer from an oversaturation of traffic and will be glad to have a traffic reduced corner there.
  • .Daniel Z|

Our Ref:         1006529211/AR

Date:              09.06.2010



Dear Mr Zylbersztajn

..With regards to Swinton Place, any consideration of one-way working or closing one end of the road should be directed to Camden Council who are the Highway and Traffic Authority for the majority of this road….


Annemarie Roche

Customer Service Advisor – London Streets

Transport for London

Surface Transport Customer Services


Ref. 6278010



Daniel Zylbersztajn

My enquiry is

In a recent communication with TfL they told me that Camden owns most of Swinton Place WC1X. I would like to write to Camden regarding a suggestion to close one end of Swinton Place to stop rat racing during especially traffic jams and to create a traffic relaxed zone between the two highly used roads Swinton and Acton Street for residents. Please cc your correspondence to Camden Mayor Jonathan Simpson who is aware of this. Should you wish to see the TfL correspondence referred to email me.

I would like to be contacted by






12 Aug 2010

Dear Mr Zylbersztajn,

Acton Street / Swinton Street, WC1X – Ref 6278010

Further to your enquiry relating to the above please accept my apologies for not responding to your initial enquiry. I had made some enquiries of my colleagues at Transport for London (TfL), however not providing you with a direct response was an oversight on my part for which I apologise.

As you are aware Acton Street and Swinton Street form part of the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and TfL are the traffic and highway authority for these roads. I understand that you have received a response from TfL regarding the issue of traffic speed and noise levels on Acton Street and Swinton Street.

In relation to Swinton Place, Camden Council is the traffic and highway authority for the majority of this road, as stated in TfL’s response. However, TfL is the traffic authority for parts of the road at the junctions with Swinton Street and Acton Street, referred to as ‘red route returns’. As a result of the relationship to the TLRN TfL would need to be supportive of any measures proposed for Swinton Place.

I have had initial discussions with colleagues at TfL and they have indicated that they would not be supportive of either the closure of one end of Swinton Place or introducing one-way working in either direction. They have come to this view as a result of safety concerns, concerns relating to the impact on and resilience of the traffic and bus network and introducing long diversion routes as a result of one-way working in Swinton Place.

In addition to the above, the funding that the Council receives to implement such measures across the borough has significantly reduced from this financial year onwards and there are considerable challenges across the borough which places a significant level of demand on this funding. As a result of this reduction of funding it is critical that delivery and funding are directed to the areas of greatest need and that programmes of works are evidence-based and robust.

The Council will, in early 2011, be consulting upon its second Local Implementation Plan (LIP), which is the statutory transport strategy that must take a considerable steer from the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, but also sets out how we intend to achieve the objectives with the funding available. A significant level of demand for projects to improve safety and mitigate the impacts of central and inner London traffic levels is expected, and this will add to the consideration of all the outstanding requests that the borough has been unable to take forward. The eventual projected prioritisation and the programme for the next few years will then be agreed by Members following borough-wide engagement.

Your suggestions for Swinton Place will be considered as part of the development of the second LIP. However, given the position of TfL and the pressure on resources I can provide no guarantees that your suggestions will be taken forward.

Yours sincerely

Louise Bond

Camden Acting Head of Public Realm & Transport Policy

This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Road Safety in Kings Cross, Transport. Bookmark the permalink.

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