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£31M TfL underspend dismays consultants


TRANSPORT FOR London is heading for a £31M underspend on its £561M capital programme for 2004/05, it emerged this week.

The London Assembly budget committee has heard that half way through the financial year, TfL capital expenditure was as much as £52M under budget.

Of this, £19M relates to third party-funded projects.

News of the underspend follows the revelation of an £850M shortfall in Network Rail's 2004/5 spending programme.

TfL spending was £10M below budget on the late starting East London Line extension and £9M below budget on Channel Tunnel Rail Link related work at King's Cross.

The underspend also includes £4M arising from a delayed footbridge replacement scheme on the A406 North Circular.

Details of TfL's budget monitoring report only emerged this week. Consultants working for TfL expressed their disappointment at the news.

'Last year 90% of capital schemes were stopped because of a shortfall in congestion charging income. This year TfL is heading for a similar underspend. It's not good planning, ' said one consultant.

TfL is understood to have dragged back £21M of the underspend partly by issuing highway maintenance contractors with vast orders that cannot be completed within the annual budgetary cycle.

Its surface transport budget was underspent by £16M in September - £8M of this in capital maintenance works. It is now heading for a £9M overspend.

A TfL spokesman said that an underspend was not uncommon and that it is traditionally kept to 1% to 2% of overall spending.

This year's underspend would be within that bracket.

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