THE METROPOLITAN Line extension from Croxley to Watford Junction is at risk following the admission by Transport for London that the project has a £50 million shortfall.
The project was missing from TfL’s Business Plan, released in December 2016, which detailed a number of capital expenditure programmes, including the Northern Line extension. Now, in a letter to Conservative Party members of the London Assembly, TfL has said the project, due to be completed in 2020, ‘cannot be delivered’ with the current funding package of £284.4 million. TfL Head of Line Extensions Robert Niven noted that more than £50 million would be required on top of TfL’s contribution of £49 million. A spokesman for the Mayor of London stated, ‘This project is outside London and… responsibility for delivering it ultimately lies with government’.
TfL has confirmed that it, and the Mayor, will be writing to the Department for Transport to request additional funding, whilst a Freedom of Information request has revealed that almost £130 million has already been spent on the extension. The Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill has confirmed that work has stopped on the project, with speculation about its future having grown when the London Mayor failed to include the new link in his TfL business plan. Despite this, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling has given assurances that the extension is a contractual obligation.
Formerly known as the Croxley Rail Link, the extension is due to see services on the Watford branch of the Metropolitan Line diverted away from the current terminus, running on a new 400-metre viaduct over the Watford Road dual carriageway and the Grand Union Canal and onto the track bed of the former British Rail Croxley Green branch line to Watford High Street and Watford Junction. New stations would be built at Cassiobridge and Watford Vicarage Road, and although the existing Watford LU station would be closed to passengers it would be retained as sidings for the extended railway.
The scheme was formally initiated in 2011 and a Transport and Works Act Order granting permission for the scheme was made in summer 2013, with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) the lead authority responsible for its delivery. The estimated cost at the time was £116 million, to be funded by HCC and the Department for Transport, and the extension was due to open in May 2016.
However, with HCC reporting programme slippage and cost escalation DfT determined that responsibility for delivery should transfer to London Underground. Work by Aecom in early 2015 gave a revised cost for the scheme of £284.4 million, with this funding shared between TfL, DfT and local partners (primarily the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership).