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20.03.15

Croxley rail link nears approval as project costs escalate

The government and Transport for London (TfL) are set to provide £50m to plug the shortfall on the long-awaited Croxley rail link, after its estimated cost more than doubled. 

Discussions over final approvals and funding are continuing. 

Earlier this week Watford MP Richard Harrington said a deal was “finalised” and “TfL had taken over the project with support and further backing from the Treasury”. But RTM has been told by TfL and Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) – two of the project’s key players – that discussions are still ongoing as they wait “for a funding decision from the Department for Transport (DfT)”. 

The project cost, which originally stood at £116.8m – £76.24m from the DfT and £40.56m from local contributions – has ballooned. 

In December, the Croxley project team estimated that the scheme was projected to cost £230m, which took account of inflation and increasing the scope of the scheme. 

However, a letter from the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, seen by the Watford Observer, states the “total scheme cost budget is £284.4m and up until very recently the scheme was facing a funding gap of £50m”. 

In the chancellor’s Budget this week the funding gap was addressed. It was stated: “The government will provide a further £34m to support the delivery of the Croxley rail link project, subject to a £16m contribution from TfL and final approval of the scheme.” 

Responding to the Budget announcement, Cllr Terry Douris, cabinet member for highways and waste management at HCC, told RTM: “We welcome the inclusion of the Croxley rail link by the chancellor within HM Treasury’s Budget 2015, which demonstrates the importance of this scheme for residents of Watford and the surrounding area. 

“We await final confirmation from the DfT and remain hopeful that there will soon be a positive decision.” 

The rail link will see the Metropolitan Line extended to Watford Junction, and new stations built at Vicarage Road and Ascot Road. Access will be improved to the Hospital, football ground, business parks, and to wider West Watford. Hertfordshire County Council, London Underground, Network Rail, Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council are working in partnership to deliver the project. 

Construction of the link is expected to start within months, with the target date for trains to start running on the new link in spring 2018. 

Chancellor George Osborne said this week: “The Croxley rail link will open up new economic opportunities that will have real benefits for people living in and around Watford. 

“Investment like this in Watford is possible because of the Conservatives’ Long-Term Economic plan. Richard Harrington’s hard work as a Conservative MP ensured I was aware of this project and its importance to the area.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Lutz   23/03/2015 at 01:36

I think if you a little further back, you will find that the original cost was put at £15m.

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