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Olympic bid increases pressure for East London Line extension start

PRESSURE ON ministers to kick start the stalled £750M East London Line Extension increased this week when the project was included in London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

Information on the bid team's official website says the £1bn extension 'would improve connections to the games area'.

The extension would enable passengers from south London to reach the Olympic site at Stratford after changing onto the North London Line at Dalston Junction.

But a spokesman for the 2012 bid team played down the significance of the project's inclusion, saying it was only listed as a possibility in bid documents.

'We are not hanging our hat on the project, ' he said.

The project has planning permission but has been delayed by a row between the Department for Transport, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and the mayor's Transport for London department (see box).

The East London Line is the only major transport scheme with no firm start date included in the bid.

The bid team made it clear that it was limiting assumptions on transport improvements, basing the bid on existing infrastructure and already programmed improvements.

Planned upgrades include a 50% capacity increase for London Underground's Jubilee Line, which Tubelines will carry out by 2012 as part of its 30 year tube upgrade contract.

A seven minute shuttle service is also planned for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link between St Pancras and Stratford, although the SRA has still to award a train operating franchise for this.

'We consider transport in London to be one of the bid's major strengths, ' said bid team chief executive Keith Mills. He added that Olympic traffic would add 5% to tube passenger numbers during the summer when traffic is light. Andy Bolton Finance complicates a basic design The East London Line Extension is in limbo following a row between the Department for Transport and the SRA/TfL team over the design build finance transfer method (NCE 11/25 December 2003).

The dispute has delayed invitations to tender, originally due to be put out before Christmas.

But the SRA/TfL project team is raring to go. Team members claim they can give the government strong reassurances on pricing and timing because the work is relatively uncomplicated.

'It's technically quite straightforward - we are not using new technology, ' said East London Line project director Peter Richards.

The project involves extending the line north along a refurbished section of 19th century railway viaduct before tying it into the North London Line at Dalston Junction.

It will connect a neglected and run down area of east London into the national rail network north and south of the Thames for the first time.

To the south it involves connections into the south London rail network at Surrey Quays and New Cross.

The existing section of the line between Shoreditch, New Cross and Surrey Quays will be closed for refurbishment.

'We are in the fortunate position of having a major enhancement project, the vast majority of which is off network, ' said Richards.

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