Labour unimpressed as Tories start Bakerloo Line extension petition

Bakerloo Line train at Paddington
TfL has denied that the Bakerloo Line extension is on hold

Greenwich and Lewisham’s Tory candidate for the London Assembly has started a petition to push TfL into progressing with the Bakerloo Line extension – but his Labour rival says the government should get on with safeguarding the route.

Charlie Davis, who is also a Greenwich councillor for Eltham North, launched the petition yesterday after TfL left the £5 billion Tube extension off the list of projects it is asking the Westminster government to fund.

Instead, TfL is asking for £800m to build a DLR extension to Lewisham and as well as £1.9bn for a new fleet of Jubilee Line trains, among other projects. It has insisted the Bakerloo extension is not “on hold”.

The mayor’s transport agency said it had “be realistic about what is affordable over the next decade”, saying its immediate priority was safeguarding the route from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham.

Safeguarding is when the government issues a direction protecting a proposed transport route from development. A potential Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet in Kent has been safeguarded since 2009, while Crossrail 2 is also safeguarded.

However, the Bakerloo extension does not have this protection. Earlier this year, Sainsbury’s proposed then abandoned plans to build on land TfL wanted to use at New Cross Gate.

Criticising London mayor Sadiq Khan, who chairs TfL, Davis said the decision not to include the Bakerloo Line Extension in its request for funding was “a slap in the face for long-suffering commuters”, adding that Lewisham is the only inner London borough without.

“That’s why we’ve launched our Save Lewisham Tube petition calling upon the mayor to prioritise a project that will not only benefit Lewisham, but wider south east London transport capacity and connectivity,” he said. “I’ll continue fighting to ensure the extension to Lewisham is delivered to benefit local residents and the local economy.”

The petition had attracted 42 signatures late last night.

Davis said he had written to the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, about safeguarding, and had been told: “The decision as to whether or not progress with the project will be for the Mayor of London to take.”

Len Duvall, the Labour assembly member for Greenwich and Lewisham, was not impressed with the petition. He told 853: “Sadiq Khan and TfL have been making the case to Government to safeguard the Bakerloo Line Extension, which would include a tube station at Lewisham, for years. Their pleas have sadly fallen on deaf ears.”

He added: “I am pleased the Tory Assembly candidate in Greenwich and Lewisham has finally woken up to the need to fund transport services in south east London properly.

“Perhaps he could ask his friends in Government to put their money where their mouth is though – fund TfL in the short term to replace the fare income lost as a result of Covid-19 and put together a proper package of long term investment that would allow schemes like both the Bakerloo Line extension and DLR to Thamesmead to progress.”

Last week the elected mayor of Lewisham and leader of Southwark Council blamed government “game-playing” over TfL finances for the Bakerloo Line extension not appearing on the list.

TfL lost its operating grant from central government in 2018 under a deal struck by Boris Johnson when he was mayor, leaving it heavily reliant on fares. However, that fare income collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic, forcing TfL to seek bailouts from the government.

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