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London mayor 'effectively abandons' £284M Met line extension

Watford Tube   platform

Transport for London (TfL) will not go ahead with the Metropolitan line extension (MLE) after mayor of London Sadiq Khan rejected an extra £73M funding from government.

Work on the proposed MLE stopped in June last year after TfL revealed millions more in funding would be needed on top of the project’s original £284M costs, partly due to a supply chain price hike. Powers to build the line were due to expire in August.

Khan’s latest cost estimate for the finished MLE was £357.8M, showing a £73.4M funding shortfall.

The line was originally known as the Croxley Rail Link and run by Hertfordshire County Council.  TfL took responsibility for the project in 2015. The transport body would be liable for any future cost hikes on the scheme.

London mayor Sadiq Khan had recently secured an extra £73M in government funding. However, Khan has confirmed TfL will not go ahead with the scheme after he raised concerns that costs could rise further.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling and communities secretary Sajid Javid, who had jointly pledged the extra £73M, will now talk to TfL about repaying the Department for Transport’s (DfT) £110M 2015 grant.

“Considering the lack of confidence you and TfL have in the budget you had set for the scheme, and the increasing risk that TfL may not be able to carry out necessary works ahead of statutory powers lapsing in August, we conclude that effectively you have decided to abandon the scheme,” said Grayling and Javid in a letter to Khan, seen by New Civil Engineer.

Conservative MP for Watford Richard Harrington said he was “very disappointed” with Khan’s decision to not continue with the scheme.

“We’ve given him everything he’s asked for, and more. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that Sadiq was never serious about this,” said Harrington.

Funding for the scheme was split between TfL, the DfT, Watford Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

metropolitan line extension map 1

metropolitan line extension map 1

Source: Transport for London

The MLE would have seen the Metropolitan line close between Croxley and Watford and a new section constructed from Croxley to Watford Junction, via two new stations at Cassiobridge and Watford Bridge Road. Construction was due to begin in 2016 and finish by 2020.

In 2016 then-programme director for the MLE Glenn Keelan told New Civil Engineer’s UK Rail conference that alternative procurement routes were being considered in a bid to bring down costs. Taylor Woodrow had been set to deliver the scheme.

A spokesperson for the mayor said Khan and TfL had proposed solutions to cover additional costs, such as using funds raised from new developments, and had put forward an alternative bus route.

“Without a pragmatic approach from the government, the scheme cannot progress with such a huge financial risk to London taxpayers,” said the spokesperson.

“This is yet another example of the incompetent and chaotic approach the previous mayor took to infrastructure projects – with London taxpayers being asked to pay for a scheme that will benefit people outside the capital.”

TfL has been contacted for comment.


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