Extension of the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham will not happen unless the Government agrees to financially back Transport for London on a long-term basis, TfL said last night.
“We need a long-term funding agreement to make the Bakerloo Line extension possible,” a TfL spokesperson told Eastlondonlines after the Government tonight agreed a short term arrangement to support TfL until February. However, they also stressed that long term work on the project was continuing.
Earlier this week, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Southwark News that plans to extend the Bakerloo Line have been scrapped because TfL is facing a funding crisis, for which he blamed the Government.
Despite Khan comment’s, Tfl told Eastlondonlines: “Earlier this year, directions were issued by the Transport Secretary to safeguard the route of the Bakerloo line extension from Lambeth North to Lewisham. These directions will prevent premature development on sites required for this vital project.
“Extending the Bakerloo line and upgrading the existing line would connect an historically under-served part of London to the Tube network, while unlocking thousands of new homes that London needs and supporting new jobs.
“We remain committed to delivering the scheme when the time is right but are dependent on a Government funding settlement. We are planning a piece of work to confirm elements of the tunnel design, which we hope will enable us to have constructive discussions with potential developers along the route. We are working with the boroughs on funding for the ongoing development of the scheme, and will seek to continue to work with the Government on a viable funding package so the project can be delivered in the future.”
TfL Commissioner Andy Byford said in a statement tonight that it is essential that “discussions with Government continue so that we can agree the sustained long-term Government funding that is vital for the coming years if a period of ‘managed decline’ of London’s transport network is to be avoided.”
TfL, which depends on revenue generated by fares, has been financially battered by the pandemic and Khan had accused the government of refusing to agree to a long-term funding deal. With Covid-19 ‘Plan B’ measures (including working from home) in place since last weekend, TfL expects revenue to further decline.
Under the plans, the London Underground route is to be extended from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham, with two brand new stations at Burgess Park and Old Kent Road, costing TfL £3.1 billion.
However, if the cancellation plan moves ahead, it threatens to disrupt the economy of the entire area— under the plans around 25,000 homes (including affordable homes) are planned to be built to “tackle London’s housing crisis”, and 5,000 jobs are to be created to substantially boost the local economy in the areas of Lewisham and Southwark.
The extension would also make the wider South London area more accessible. Driven by high demand, housing prices in the areas are predicted to rise by 10 percent over the next five years, according to a report by the Evening Standard.
If TfL fails to secure adequate funding, London could incur costs amounting to upwards of £12 billion over the next decade, according to a report by City Hall. Cancelling the plan to extend Bakerloo Line alone would lead to sacrifice of welfare economic benefits—meaning funds portioned out for poor, unemployed and ill people—of £3.9 to £6.8 billion over the next four decades.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a recent statement: “[Funding] support to TfL has always been on the condition that TfL reaches financial sustainability as soon as possible and with a target date of April 2023.”
However, the Government has extended the deadline for existing short-term funding support to TfL until February 4.
The funding support to TfL was set to expire on December 11, but TfL had been granted an extension until today; after further discussions it was announced late this afternoon that support will continue until February 4. The government has so far supported TfL with £4 billion.
The Mayor’s office has not responded to a request for comment.