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Now Livingstone pitches for Thameslink 2000

LONDON MAYOR Ken Livingstone wants to take over development and funding of the long-delayed Thameslink 2000 project, it emerged this week.

Livingstone said that changes in government funding rules mean his Transport for London department is now in a position to back both the £750M East London Line extension and the £3bn Thameslink 2000 projects.

Speaking at the international property fair MIPIM in Cannes on Tuesday, Livingstone confirmed that he had held talks with Network Rail and the Strategic Rail Authority about taking over Thameslink 2000.

He said it could be operational by 2012/13. 'I met last week with the chief executive of Network Rail and offered to take over funding as it is so crucial, ' he said.

'Network Rail, with its national focus, will never have London schemes as a top priority as I or my successors would.'

Livingstone explained that with prudent borrowing providing an annual budget of £9bn a year and an 'AA stable' credit rating from Standard & Poor's, his office was well placed to fund major transport schemes. Transport for London alone has an approved £400M budget this year, and will bid for £500M next year, Livingstone said.

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