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Funding shortage threatens Livingstone's transport plans

NEWS

MAJOR CIVIL engineering projects planned for London face delays because of a £1.5bn shortfall in the Greater London Authority's projected transport budget.

The warning came as London mayor Ken Livingstone published his 10 year transport strategy for the capital on Tuesday.

The strategy assumes that the East London Line extension will be ready by 2006, Thameslink 2000 will be finished by 2008 and that the CrossRail link between Paddington and Liverpool Street will be complete by 2011.

The document assumes that the GLA will need an extra £300M a year from the government between 2006/7 and 2010/11 to cover a gap between committed government funds and congestion charging revenue.

As a result, timetables for major civils projects planned for the capital are expected to slip.

'There are serious concerns that the available funding will be inadequate, ' said head of transport policy at business lobby group London First, Irving Yass.

'There is a shortfall of £1.5bn to enhance existing systems, quite apart from the Underground and major projects, ' he added.

Livingstone said he expected the government to make up the shortfall. He said that the GLA was carrying out an assessment exercise to prioritise capital projects.

'We are looking at what the GLA can pay for and what I can squeeze out of central government, ' he said this week.

But the funding crisis raises doubts over targets unveiled in the strategy. These include a 50% rise in rail and underground capacity in London over 15 years. Two thirds of this increase is expected to come through new projects and one third through existing capacity.

Livingstone also confirmed that he was setting up a Suburban Rail Authority staffed by Transport for London and Strategic Rail Authority personnel as revealed in NCE (24 May). It will develop and deliver a rail strategy for the capital.

Livingstone said he hoped that the new Authority would negotiate the extra money from government, including £3.8bn for Crossrail.

The mayor confirmed that he would be meeting government transport minister John Spellar over the 'next 10 days' to work out how the new rail authority would work.

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