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Metropolitan extension needs additional £50m to ‘save project’

Work on the Metropolitan Line extension will require an additional £50m to be completed, and is at risk of stalling completely without extra funds, according to London Assembly member Gareth Bacon.

In a letter to Bacon, TfL’s head of rail investment confirmed that the mayor, Sadiq Khan, and TfL are writing to the DfT requesting additional funding for the project which has seen its costs balloon to £284m.

The previous mayor of London, Boris Johnson, had pledged £49m to the project, but according to recent cost projections by TfL, the Metropolitan Line now needs an additional cash injection again to be finished.

Bacon accused the current mayor of putting the line’s extension into jeopardy due to his poor decision-making. “His partial fares freeze has put TfL’s budget in total turmoil, and left him with no room to move if new expenses crop up,” he said.

“This £284m project was set to provide London with new links to thriving areas but, as is common in large projects, costs have increased over time.”

Bacon concluded saying: “The mayor will not be able to find this funding and instead wants the government to accept the burden of saving this project.”

When asked for comment, David Hughes, London Underground’s director of strategy and service development, confirmed:"After taking on the Metropolitan Line Extension from Hertfordshire County Council we have undertaken a detailed review to establish the true cost of the project.

"Following this extensive work we estimate that to complete the extension, which is located outside of London, we would need to double the funding commitment we have already made, requiring more than an additional £50m that we are unable to provide."

Hughes did add that this announcement did not mean the project had been cancelled, adding that London Underground, "remain open to helping assist the DfT in finding an alternative funding package for the project, or alternative schemes that may be more affordable". 

This news follows a long series of difficulties that the extension has faced with its funding, something which has led to speculation about the project being called off.

Back in December, RTM reported that the project, which will see the line extended from Croxley to Watford junction via Watford high street, was once again declared as being over-budget as the DfT announced that delivery costs had more than doubled from £116.8m to £284.8m.

At that time, the transport minister Andrew Jones said “the costs of the scheme are currently higher than the agreed budget”, going on to explain that the rising costs could be put down to “prices received from the supply chain”.

However, Jones also said the government would not be putting any more funds into the project, and expected TfL to complete the works as agreed.

Before that, it was reported that TfL had to plug an enormous £2.73m worth of unbudgeted funding before it could even begin works on the already delayed project.

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Nickk   15/03/2017 at 18:46

The real benefits of this line are minimal... The Mayor of Watford would love it, as it provisions "Good Public Transport Links" right in the heart of a proposed major (crammed-tight) housing development, which without the link would find the 0.4 car parking spaces per property very hard to support. As far as local residents are concerned, it will help very little, just adding significant noise across a steel viaduct, together with a couple of sets of points right near housing. It will also deprive a large Watford estate and school of their local station, Watford Met. Furthermore, the peak hours services will be reduced as they would need an extra train to maintain the current level. And to cap it all, we're told that Watford Junction would not be able to accommodate the full service level anyway, needing trains to be turned in the Watford Met sidings!

Huguenot   15/03/2017 at 21:32

I would have thought that TfL would have made a packet out of the sale of the Watford Met station site for housing and that could be ploughed back into the project. Watford Met is badly located other than for the existing housing estate that Nickk mentions and for the Met Line to serve both Watford High Street and Watford Junc stations would be an advantage. Also, I'm not sure that Nickk is right about capacity at Watford Junc. The Junction station used to have 5 platforms devoted to the 'DC' lines, serving trains to Euston, Broad Street, the Bakerloo Line and the Croxley Green branch. Restoration of the missing platforms should easily cope with what is now Overground plus the Met Extension, since the Bakerloo now doesn't go north of Harrow & Wealdstone.

David   16/03/2017 at 00:05

Watford Met station is not planned to be demolished.

Andrew Gwilt   16/03/2017 at 08:24

Why not ask the Chancellor to pay the £50m for the Croxley Rail Link. The current Watford tube station will not be demolished but to be completely closed for renovation and the station is to become a siding once the extension to Watford Junction along with 2 new stations is completed. The new Vicarage Road station will serve Watford General Hospital and Watford Football Club Vicarage Road stadium nearby with a link to Cardiff Road Industrial Estate and is also not far from Croxley Green as there used to be railway station and line that went from Watford Junction to Croxley Green and to Rickmansworth before it was closed and lifted by the beeching axe. Cassiobridge is the the new station that will serve Cassiobury Park and Croxley Green via a new viaduct being built over the roundabout.

Nickk   16/03/2017 at 18:08

Huguenot, TfL themselves have stated about Watford Junction capacity, and proposed using Watford yards as a turn-around, although they won't have the station itself open, even in rush-hours for the adjacent school + Cassiobury residents. Regarding WFJ platforms, a view of Bing shows two, presumably, class 313's filling the platforms, = 122metres. An S8 stock comes in at 134metres so I wonder if anyone knows what's planned: lengthening the platforms looks pretty tight. It might be possible to move the head end of the roadside platform, which would give just the one.

Pdeaves   17/03/2017 at 13:12

Is it not the case that the council has put a huge amount of money into this, effectively 'contracting' TfL to deliver? If so, I would hope that they do everything they can to recover the money for their constituents. Maybe it would be cheaper for TfL to (control and) finish the project than pay back what's already been spent! Those who look at Network Rail's costs and project control would do well to look at TfL and see that the grass isn't always greener the other side of the fence.

Walace58   21/03/2017 at 18:10

Andrew, the Watford to Croxley green line was separate to the Watford to Rickmansworth line. I assume the latter was closed by benching as it was closed a long time before I moved to Watford in '73. The Croxley line was running for many years and also had a 'parliamentary' train. Finally was closed and Herts county council ,HCC, removed the embankment access to the station to cheaply provide a new access road to Watford business park. I understand HCC initially promoted the new route and obtained funding but that the building of the route was taken off them by government/TfL. Watford council is not involved in funding it. Local people thing the met station should remain open, with a service especially as all the track is to be retained as a marshalling yard.

Andrew Gwilt   22/03/2017 at 12:48

I absolutely agree with you @Walace58.

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