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Livingstone to take over East London Line extension

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LONDON MAYOR Ken Livingstone is to take control of the £1bn East London Line extension next week, according to sources close to the project.

The move is expected to follow a green light for the project in Chancellor Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review on Monday.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling's rail review is also due next week. This is likely to downgrade the role of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which has been developing the project with Livingstone's Transport for London (TfL) department.

The TfL/SRA team was ready to invite private finance bids last Christmas before ministers put plans on hold (NCE 11/25 December 2003).

Contractors are expected to finance and build the extension before selling it on completion to Network Rail. TfL is expected to procure the project, possibly using its balance sheet to guarantee loans taken out by contractors The project is likely to be promoted as a key part of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics as it would take spectators from south to north east London.

The project is also included in a new map of how London's transport system could look in 2016, revealed by Livingstone on Tuesday.

The map includes all major transport projects planned for the next 10 years including Crossrail, Thameslink 2000 and Docklands Light Railway extensions.

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