The Labour Deputy Mayor of London for Transport has confirmed that Transport for London (TfL) cannot guarantee the future of the planned Bakerloo line extension from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham via New Cross. This adds even more uncertainty to the second phase of the planned extension from Lewisham to Ladywell, Catford and Lower Sydenham.
In May, following the news TfL had accepted a £1.69billion bailout from the Government, London Assembly candidate for Lewisham, Charlie Davis, wrote to the Deputy Mayor to ask for assurances about the future of the project. This followed media reports TfL had been prepared to put the project on the table to secure the bailout. In her response to Charlie, the Deputy Mayor denied these claims but added the pressure on TfL finances meant that the organisation could not guarantee the future of such projects.
The Mayor of London sought a TfL bailout from the government after the organisation ran out of reserves, which critics have argued is a result of the poor financial management of the Labour Mayor, who is also Chair of TfL. Critics cite the Mayor’s decision to ignore expert advice and freeze pay as you go fares in 2016 (reducing TfL’s incomes by £640million), as something which has mainly benefited tourists as the cost of commuter travel cards has continued to increase. Critics also draw attention to the record debt TfL has run up under the Mayor, with the organisation now having a £1billion budget deficit. In addition, the delays to Crossrail opening have cost TfL an expected £1.39billion in lost fares.
Commenting on the response Charlie said “The poor financial management of the Labour administration at City Hall has led to ordinary Londoners having to pay the price. Even now, the Mayor refuses to take responsibility for this issue and provide the leadership required to guide TfL through this challenging period. The Bakerloo Line extension is a vital piece of local transport infrastructure, not just for Lewisham but for wider South East London. The fact the Deputy Mayor is unable to guarantee the future funding of this project is deeply worrying, I will continue to campaign to ensure this vital project is not sacrificed to bailout Labour's failings in London."