Posted 15th March 2017 | 4 Comments
Underground extension at risk with ‘£50m shortfall’
CONSERVATIVES on the Greater London Assembly have claimed that the extension of the London Underground Metropolitan line to Watford Junction over the former Croxley Green branch is running out of money and could fall victim to a £50 million shortfall. A proposed extension of tram services to Sutton in south London has already been threatened after £100 million was withdrawn from that project in December.
The Croxley Link had been planned for many years and work is now under way. But it has been a victim of soaring costs and is running late, with its original budget rising from £116 million to £284 million.
Control of the scheme was moved from Hertfordshire County Council to Transport for London by the DfT in 2015, but there were fresh concerns about the scheme last year when it did not appear in TfL’s latest business plan.
The Croxley Link involves diverting trains from Moor Park on to a former British Rail line and closing the present ‘Watford Met’ station, which is in a park some distance from the town centre. The advantages include two new local stations serving suburban Watford, one close to the football ground, and interchange opportunities at Watford Junction with suburban and intercity National Rail trains, as well as London Overground services towards Harrow.
The project includes a new viaduct in Croxley Green, which is needed to connect the Metropolitan line with the disused branch.
According to the Conservative Assembly members, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s partial fares freeze has forced TfL to find £640 million in savings, and he is ‘insisting’ no more cash is available for the project. It was reported in December that no more government funding would be available either, but the Mayor and TfL are now said to be writing to the Department of Transport requesting a rethink.
London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said: “The extension’s future has been put in jeopardy due to the Mayor’s poor decision-making. His partial fares freeze has put TfL’s budget in total turmoil, and left him with no room to move if new expenses crop up. This project was set to provide London with new links to thriving areas but, as is common in large projects, costs have increased over time. The Mayor will not be able to find this funding and instead wants the government to accept the burden of saving this project.”
However, TfL does not accept that the project is cancelled.
David Hughes, London Underground’s director of strategy and service development, said: “After taking on the Metropolitan Line Extension from Hertfordshire County Council we have undertaken a detailed review to establish the true cost of the project. Following this extensive work we estimate that to complete the extension, which is located outside London, we would need to double the funding commitment we have already made, requiring more than an additional £50 million that we are unable to provide.
“This does not mean the project has been cancelled and we remain open to helping assist the Department for Transport in finding an alternative funding package for the project, or alternative schemes that may be more affordable.”
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