Northern line extension begs questions

One of the most curious aspects of the Autumn Statement was the fact that of the promised rail improvements, the first in the list is the Northern Line Extension from Kennington to Battersea. This is odd for two reasons.

First, the scheme is supposed to be funded entirely by the private sector and therefore in a sense is nothing to do with Osborne’s statement. However, in fact, the developers have never promised to make up the whole cost – variously estimated at £500m (without optimism bias) to £900m – and the source of the remaining money seems to require legislative changes. At most the developers were committed to £200m, but there was some mention that they might be allowed to raise further money on the basis of securitising their future payments for Community Infrastructure Levy, the replacement of the current section 106 planning gain payments. However, this would require a change in legislation.

Secondly, the developers, Treasury Holdings, went bust barely a week after the Autumn Statement. It was widely known they were in trouble. So how come Osborne was still so keen on putting the scheme into his statement. Either he was remarkably badly informed or it was just pure cynicism. Either way, this story bears further examination especially as the whole scheme seems rather ill-thought out. That is perhaps, inevitably, why Boris supports it!

I shall be writing about this in more detail in a forthcoming column soon. But the whole thing smacks of desperation on the part of the government that their beloved private sector is helping the recovery.

  • Paul Holt

    Once again, the necessary map is missing.   Try this: 

  • Greg Tingey

    As opposed to the Watford-Croxley re-openening (at last!)

  • MikeB

    Another question mark hangs over the proposed TransPennine electrification which – if as stated it is going to be Manchester to Leeds – gives the impression that the wires will go up between Guide Bridge and Copley Hill East Junction only. This will result in most TPE trains to Scarborough, Newcastle etc. still being diesel powered east of Leeds.

  • Windsorian

    The Chinese in Hong Kong have a very different approach to funding transport developments; they build the new infrastructure and sell off the adjacent land development sites to subsidise the cost of the work.
    This begs the question whether the entire Battersea site should be compulsory purchased at existing land values (ie derelict & contaminated), the underground extension built and the land then sold with the new transport link(s) in place.
    And how about extending the Northern line, via Battersea to Clapham Junction ?

  • Richie

    Agree on both points. Why not use the land value gains to contribute to the build cost ?

    And why not extend past Clapham Junction to East Putney to connect to the District line to Wimbledon ?