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Ministers delay East London Line decision until July

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MINISTERS ARE delaying a decision on the future of the £1bn East London Line extension until Chancellor Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review in July, transport officials indicated this week.

Ministers are considering whether the project should be funded through central government or by London mayor Ken Livingstone's Transport for London (TfL) department.

The East London Line extension involves upgrading track and connecting the route south of the Thames to the south London commuter rail network (NCE 11 March). It is being promoted by the Strategic Rail Authority and TfL.

The project is also part of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

The Department for Transport appeared to downplay the importance of the project this week. It said there were already 10 rail lines serving the proposed Olympic games area in east London excluding the East London Line.

It also hinted that the decision making process had been complicated by the fact Livingstone had offered to take over the project.

'The Department is considering proposals from the Strategic Rail Authority on how the East London Line could be fully built or funded, ' said the DfT.

'The mayor has also suggested he could take the project forward by raising funds through borrowing by. . .

Transport for London.'

'Both options raise a number of complex issues which need to be considered in the context of the government's spending review and London's transport priorities generally.'

Livingstone stepped up his efforts to take on the project this week although he stressed that he could only do so if the government increased the Greater London Authority's borrowing limits.

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