The release of the draft TfL Business Plan always results in a flurry of activity within LR Towers as it gives a good insight into the thinking and direction that transport policy in the Capital will take. Eyebrows were raised when one project currently on TfL’s books failed to get a named mention in this year’s plan – the Metropolitan line extension to Watford (also known as the “Croxley Rail Link”).

Extending the Metropolitan

The full details of the Croxley Rail Link can be found on the project’s website. Diamond Geezer also has an excellent (and thorough) look at the route. Broadly speaking though, the scheme seeks to connect the Metropolitan line to Watford town centre. It will do this by using the alignment of the old Croxley Green Branch line. The current Watford Metropolitan line station will close and be replaced by three new stations before finally terminating at Watford Junction.


The current planned route

The scheme was originally promoted by Hertfordshire County Council, who saw (and still see) it as both a way of boosting the local economy in Watford, and of supporting the Watford Health Campus development.

Croxley (as it is known colloquially) is a project we have long followed here on LR. Indeed it was one of the first things we ever wrote about when we launched the site over nine years ago. That in itself perhaps gives an indication that development of the scheme has not progressed as smoothly as planned. Despite a Transport Works Act Order for the project being issued in 2013, it has hardly progressed since.

As is often the case with infrastructure projects one of the primary reasons for this has been escalating project costs. Herts originally forecast the cost of the project at about £170m in 2008 (including contingency), reduced to £115m through tighter scoping by 2011. If that seems cheap then that was deliberate. The goal was to put in place the minimum necessary infrastructure to run a functioning railway (something we described in some detail at the time).

This low cost estimate was sufficient to get Herts the backing of the DfT, who provided a funding commitment for about £76m. Developer contributions were to make up about £7m with Herts themselves committing to pay the remainder of the balance up front. They planned to do so via a loan, secured against future council tax receipts. The loan itself is to be paid through profits generated via the extension (e.g. extra fares), which London Underground agreed to remit back to the council until the loan was repaid.

TfL take over

Unfortunately, since 2013 the project’s price tag has continued to climb. Herts admitted in 2014 that they now forecast the cost at £230m, based on a Network Rail assessment of the project. This remained the expected cost at the end of 2014 when, with the council clearly struggling to manage both contractors and costs, they were forced to return to the DfT and renegotiate terms again.

The result of that negotiation saw the project survive but on condition that TfL (or, more specifically, London Underground) took over management of the project by the end of 2015.

It is perhaps fair to say that TfL were far from enthused about taking over responsibility for Croxley, something that was clear from the words of David Hughes, London Underground’s Director of Major Programme Sponsorship at the time:

Late last year, faced with significant project slippage and cost escalation, the government asked us to consider stepping in and taking over responsibility for delivery of the scheme. We were clear that a suitable funding package needed to be in place before we would be prepared to take this on.

This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a belief within the organisation that it wouldn’t bring benefits to passengers. Simply that technically speaking many of those passengers weren’t within TfL’s specific remit – Hertfordshire, of course, being a home county rather than a London borough. Internally there was also a suspicion that even Network Rail’s forecast cost was likely too low and (as David Hughes intimated) that meant there was almost certainly a funding gap lurking on the horizon.

Nonetheless, coming at a time when austerity was the new buzzword in the Treasury, TfL were hardly in a place to refuse the government’s request. Perhaps there were quid-pro-quo arrangements and assurances made behind the scenes. The net result though was the transfer of the project to London Underground control in 2015, with TfL also agreeing to commit £16m (claimed to be the costs related to procuring and running the rolling stock) from their Growth Fund to the project.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before TfL discovered that their suspicions were correct. Soon they announced that their own initial estimate of project cost was closer to £280m. More money was required. Once again, the funding package was renegotiated – the DfT would provide an extra £34m on top of TfL’s £16m and Herts would commit to finding the rest – and, now under London Underground’s supervision, contractor Taylor Woodrow finally commenced enabling works. A provisional opening date was announced with a certain amount of fanfare – including within last year’s Business Plan – for 2020.

Clouds on the horizon

Which brings us almost to where we are today. In recent months there have been increasing hints that Croxley still might not be progressing according to plan. This seemed to come to a head in Autumn this year when Taylor Woodrow, who held the original contract for both design and construction from Herts, were removed by TfL from the project. No replacement contractor has yet been appointed.

In light of this, the apparent removal of the project completely from the TfL Business Plan naturally set alarm bells ringing among backers of the scheme, seemingly implying that the project has quietly been dropped completely.

TfL’s Growth Fund and Croxley

As is often the case, the reality is more complex. In response to our questions on its removal TfL have indicated that, from their perspective, it is in fact still in the Business Plan – it just didn’t receive a named mention. This is because TfL’s own funding commitment is coming from the TfL Growth fund, they explained, and Croxley is one of the projects that has been committed to as part of that. They pointed out that with 15 projects covered by the Growth Fund, there was just no space to mention them all.

This is factually correct and so Croxley’s supporters can draw some confidence from TfL’s statement. The extension definitively hasn’t been cancelled. At the same time though, it would be a mistake to assume this automatically means it is guaranteed to still go ahead.

To understand why this is true first requires a brief explanation of what the TfL Growth Fund is and how it works.

The Growth Fund is TfL’s slush fund for transport projects that it wants to take forward but can’t justify doing on the basis of a regular benefit / cost ratio analysis (BCR). It’s a clever and innovative answer to the problem caused by the fact that forecasting future transport needs ahead of housing or economic change in an area is sometimes very hard to do. Occasionally, you just have to ignoring the raw numbers and just doing something that all parties involved (TfL, borough and developer) intrinsically feel will be a solution to a transport problem that doesn’t exist right now, but will do within ten years.

First established in 2012 with a budget of £360m to run until 2017, the fund has been topped up a couple of times since and currently has 15 projects on its books. 14 of those can be found in a London Assembly report commissioned to look at the Growth Fund at the end of last year (Croxley is among them), which is reproduced below. Since then Old Oak Common Overground station has been added.


Growth fund projects

We will not go into heavy detail about how the fund functions here, but as the London Assembly’s independent report highlights, the Growth Fund is broadly felt to be a success by TfL, the boroughs and by the Assembly itself. The report did, however, raise one major concern.

Who watches the watchmen?

That concern was that, perhaps understandably with a fund set up essentially to finance projects which were tricky to prove the benefit of, overall governance as to what gets funded and by how much was somewhat fuzzy.

This wasn’t to say that the objectives of the fund were unclear. TfL had actually provided very clear guidelines as to what projects would be considered eligible – they should be future transport projects that support housing or regeneration in one of the 38 designated Opportunity Areas (OAs) outlined in the most recent London Plan (see below).


The London Plan’s Opportunity Areas

What the Assembly were concerned about was the fact that the actual decision-making process on what projects were felt to meet those objectives, how the funding would be allocated and (ultimately) who precisely was responsible for doing both of the former were not clearly defined.

This, the Assembly said, left the Growth Fund potentially open to abuse. It meant that whether by choice or, under pressure, TfL might place a project in the Growth Fund that had no real right to be there. Indeed they even cited what they felt was a specific example of this happening already.

And, worryingly for those wishing to see the Metropolitan line extended to Watford, that example was Croxley.

Failing to meet the grade

By any metric, the Assembly’s report (correctly) pointed out, the Croxley Rail Link could not be said to meet the objectives of the Growth Fund. This wasn’t (and isn’t) to say that it doesn’t yield benefits to passengers, local regeneration or local housing. Simply that, as we pointed out earlier, it doesn’t do any of those things in London let alone in one of the 38 designated OAs the Growth Fund is meant to support. There are some potential outward-facing benefits to Londoners, certainly, but when directly compared to other projects potentially eligible for the Growth Fund it would be tricky to argue that Croxley is the worthiest candidate for financing.

TfL’s lack of a vigorous counter-argument to this in their response to the report likely suggested that – internally at least – there was a feeling there too that the Assembly had a point. Again, the unspoken truth (which the Assembly recognised) was simply that TfL had agreed to take the development of Croxley on and to provide £16m of additional funding – and the Growth Fund was simply the only bucket available from which to draw that at the time.

Indeed sources suggest that since the report the major focus on the Growth Fund has been on not just preserving it but boosting it, with another £200m now added. Alongside this, TfL’s current goal is to provide a more formalised decision making structure.

Sources suggest that previously decision making on what got funded (and how much) was largely made through informal consultation with the Deputy Mayor for Transport. Criteria considered were scale of the development in the area, impact on local housing and employment, viability, and the level of support from local developers. Funding was also dependent on all other options for financing having been exhausted.

Those criteria are likely to be formalised in the near future and, taking on board the points raised by the Assembly, responsibility for making funding decisions will officially shift to a combination of the TfL board (Chaired by the Mayor of London) and GLA Growth Board.

As long as nothing changed though, then all of this should have had no impact on Croxley. Its presence within the Growth Fund had already been established and agreement for the required £16m contribution from there already signed off.

The trouble is, it looks like Croxley needs more money again.

There may be trouble ahead

The removal of Taylor Woodrow from the project was the first public indication that Croxley may be facing funding issues. Such a drastic change to project is nearly always a sign of increasing costs to come. Indeed sources suggest that this is the case on Croxley and that whilst the public estimate is still £280m, current thinking within TfL is that this may perhaps rise to as much as £350m once a full post-contractor-change cost review is completed.

This leaves a sizeable funding gap that will need to be bridged before anything beyond the current enabling works can be completed.

Finding that additional funding may well prove a significant stumbling block. Not least because Andrew Jones from the DfT, seemingly in an effort to get the agency out in front of the game, finally answered a Parliamentary question on the status of Croxley this week. His answer not only confirms that there is a funding gap, but also that the DfT have no intention of bridging it themselves (bolding ours).

Since taking over management of the Croxley Rail Link in November 2015, Transport for London (TfL) has been reviewing the main work contracts. From discussions between officials in the Department and in TfL, we are aware that, as a result of prices received from the supply chain, the costs of the scheme are currently higher than the agreed budget. We understand TfL is considering how best to deal with this.

At a meeting with the Mayor on 5 December the Secretary of State for Transport re-confirmed the importance that the Government attaches to the scheme which will deliver significant transport benefits and significantly boost economic growth in Watford and the wider north west London area. Indeed, the Government, together with local councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership, has already committed substantial funding to this scheme and nearly 85% of the total budgeted cost.

Under the terms of the funding agreement in place for the scheme, TfL committed to the agreed budget of £284.4m and so agreed to meet any costs incurred over that budget. Conversely, they would retain the full amount of any cost savings. The Department will not be providing any additional funding for the scheme and expects TfL to complete it as agreed.

The residents of LR Towers would have liked to be in the room when the above answer was first seen by TfL.

Luke, many truths in life…

Jones’ answer is in fact very cleverly worded – read the bolded sentence carefully and you’ll see that despite the way it is presented, the first part of the sentence does not actually automatically mean the second part is true.

Certainly David Hughes’ comments at the time of takeover suggested that TfL had no illusions about Croxley’s funding envelope being accurate. It would be highly surprising, therefore, if they officially agreed to meet any and all extra costs the scheme might accrue. Blank cheques are not something a smart transport authority writes lightly – especially when it is not the primary beneficiary of the scheme for which it would be paying.

Whilst the exact details of the deal between TfL and the DfT over Croxley’s funding remain private, therefore, it seems safe to say that when it comes to interpreting it, a classic Star Wars quote is rather appropriate:

Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

We certainly suspect that TfL’s interpretation of their obligations will likely differ greatly from that stated by the DfT.

A question of politics

What this all ultimately means for Croxley is that whilst it is not dead, it is certainly on the urgent transplant list. There is a clearly funding gap – potentially of about £60m – which the DfT have made it clear they have no intention of filling.

That currently leaves the TfL Growth Fund as the only likely source of additional funding from TfL. But Croxley was already the black sheep of the Growth Fund family at a £16m commitment. With TfL already looking to tighten up the governance there it will only become more so.

More importantly perhaps, just whether it would get funding from that Fund will likely soon be a decision that stops officially just being TfL’s to make. The new governance arrangements will likely see primary decision-making authority lie with the Mayor (as board Chairman) and potentially the Greater London Assembly.

To describe the relationship that the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling as ‘rocky’ would be understatement of the year – their near-daily public clashes over Southern now a regular media feature. Indeed theirs is a rivalry that predates their current positions as the two most influential transport-focused politicians in the country. It actually dates back to the time when they were Shadow Justice and Justice ministers, respectively.

Even Andrew Jones’ Parliamentary answer provides a clue as to why Khan may not look favourably on a non-London scheme right now. As it points out, The Mayor met the Minister on the 5th of December to talk Croxley and – amongst other things – rail devolution.

Given Khan’s political acumen, it seems unlikely he left that meeting with the impression that TfL’s takeover of various London franchises was suddenly in doubt. If so then he would have swiftly gone on the attack. Yet Grayling gave an interview to the Standard that ran the next day in which he indicated there would be no further franchise devolution. It is tempting to wonder just how carefully Grayling had to juggle his Outlook calendar to avoid an unfortunate meeting of Mayor and Murphy on the 5th.

All this means that unless Herts can find a way to bridge the funding gap themselves, they are currently dependent on the largesse of a Mayor and GLA now looking inward to the needs of London, rather than outward to areas they have been publicly forbidden by the Transport Secretary from entering.

Were a decision to be made on additional funding for Croxley today, it is unlikely that TfL would champion meeting that need via the Growth Fund. This would make it a purely political decision on the part of GLA and Mayor – would the political impact of cancelling a Metropolitan line extension few Londoners have heard of outweigh the very real (and visible) benefits that could be delivered by using that money elsewhere?

If that decision needed to be made right now, then the betting money in LR Towers would be on the extension getting cancelled. Luckily for Croxley’s backers, however, there is still time to ensure the balance is tipped in the extension’s favour.

Based on previously published timescales for the project, it seems likely that if the most recently stated 2020 opening date is to be met, then a decision on continuing works beyond stage 1 will need to be made by 2018. That still leaves some time for additional sources of funding to be identified (once the total cost overrun is known) or for Croxley’s backers to persuade the Mayor that it is still in London’s interests to push ahead with it.

Whether either of those outcomes will come to pass though, remains to be seen.

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There are 205 comments on this article
  1. Lee Valley Liner says:

    Fascinating write up, worth the wait!

    In many ways Croxley has important parallels with London rail devolution, which Sadiq Kahn might be wise to bear in mind. We know that rightly or wrongly, a large part of the devolution wrangle centres around the ‘Dunton Green conundrum’ – how well London-managed services would serve passengers at the extremity of routes out into the Home Counties. Leaving logic and finance aside, this is a fantastic political opportunity for Sadiq to show that he (and ‘London’ as a political entity) can be trusted to make decisions that benefit all of the people their services serve (or would one day serve), not just the London taxpayer.

    If TfL pull the plug he will certainly make an enemy of himself amongst Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council politicians, who given their much bluer (and occasionally yellower) persuasion hardly need too much encouragement. As I understand it Hertfordshire has had a relatively relaxed stance towards the devolution of metro/inner services to TfL until now, but you can bet that any cancellation of Croxley at this stage will leave Hertfordshire’s politicians lobbying against devolution (if Grayling hasn’t made his mind up on it anyway).

  2. Si says:

    “a Mayor and Assembly now looking inward to the needs of London, rather than outward to areas they have been publicly forbidden by the Transport Secretary from entering.”

    Or perhaps “an inward-looking Mayor and Assembly have been publicly forbidden by the Transport Secretary from running additional services outside its borders, because they are inward-looking”?

    OK, this Transport Secretary doesn’t want this (or any other red rosette-wearing) Mayor having authority over railways that extend beyond Greater London for purely partisan reasons, but DfT and Home Counties skepticism towards extensive Overgroundisation has always seen Transport for London’s ‘for London’ bit as a key issue.

    Hopefully, the Mayor and Assembly will realise that not building the MLX will be used as exhibit A in the DfT’s case against Turning South London Orange from here to eternity and that they and Herts need to work together to come up with a way of bridging the funding gap to be able to meet their desires in London that require dealing with areas outside the GLA boundary.

  3. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Personally, I do not buy this “Watford is not in London so not a London issue” thing.

    Who do people think are going to use it? As I understand it, the main beneficiaries, if built, will be people going into Watford to commute or shopping etc. You are not going to get many people from Watford Junction wanting to commute into London via the Metropolitan line when they can catch a fast non-stop train to Euston.

    Whilst there will be the occasional person from Croxley or even Moor Park who may use the service to get to Watford, it is intended more for people who live in London. So the Mayor would be doing some Londoners a great disservice by washing his hands of the project on the ground that its not really an issue he needs to get involved with.

    TfL and the Mayor have always argued that they do look after people from outside London because they still commute into London and work in London. Surely, logically, if they live in London and work outside then the same ought to apply.

    That said, it does concern me that it is costing all this money and if the thing is built it is only planned to have 4tph off-peak (6tph peak) which doesn’t seem to suggest that it will be good value for money.

  4. MikeP says:

    @Si – and as we must remember (and the Transport Secretary clearly needs telling…) that it is Transport for London, and not Transport of London (aka London Transport), for very good reasons. London’s success depends on effective, reliable and affordable transport beyond its borders. Unless its housing crisis is to get even worse.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Watford Hospital station doesn’t exist. Wasn’t in the plan.

  6. MikeP says:

    Couple of typos. I’d suggest that the Start Was quote is appropriate, rather than apprioriate:
    And, somewhat Freudian (or anti-Freudian), I don’t think TfL’s interpretation will differ gratefully.

    But a great article.

  7. Lee Valley Liner says:

    @PoP You might be right about London residents losing out if MLX isn’t built, but It’d be difficult to suggest that Londoners would lose out more than Watfordians if it wasn’t built. The Mayor might also take the view that its not his job (or perhaps even runs counter to his job) to get London residents spending their retail £££’s in Watford, when they could be spending them in London.

    It would be eminently logical if Three Rivers and Watford together formed a London borough, but they don’t, and that has political realities.

  8. Graham H says:

    @MikeP – Careful now – pots and kettles and all that….

  9. IslandDweller says:

    Another quality article, thanks.
    The cost escalation. Is there any detail on what/why the projected cost is now so much higher? Have the civils suddenly become more expensive? Were the original estimates not validated with sufficient rigour?

  10. Malcolm says:

    The rather cynical (and entirely knowledge-free, therefore possibly incorrect) answer to Island Dweller’s question is that the original estimates were pitched so as to get the thing agreed. New estimates after a project has been agreed are not entirely unknown in the transport world.

  11. Mark Chapman says:

    Fewer stations will get this built, hopefully. How much is it to construct and fit out a station from the ground up these days?

  12. RogerB says:

    Thank you for bringing us up to date.
    Surely what this highlights is the mismatch between the total cost of such projects in relation to the cost of the hardware actually installed.
    If rail is to have a future in this Country someone has to sit down and work out where all the money actually goes ( I write from Bath where our electrification has now been found to be unaffordable).
    It certainly doesn’t go into physically providing tracks and electrical plant.
    Is it not possible to take a step back and look at what other components of the scheme are essential rather than nice to have?

  13. Nameless says:

    Thanks for the thorough investigation and explanation.

    The Mayor appears to have been led into treacherous waters.

  14. Tunnel Bore says:

    Great article as ever.

    Minor quibble: your use of respectively is incorrect I think, it implies Khan was minister and Grayling was shadow given the ordering earlier in the paragraph.

  15. TRT says:

    One other option is to reduce costs back into the original envelope. How to do this? Well, the viaduct is the obvious biggest expense, but it is absolutely vital to the scheme – trains don’t fly! It’s also the cheapest way to address the grade issue between the two lines.
    So what are the other options to save money?

    The extra trains, but they have, I hear, already been ordered.
    The track… cut it back to a single line? But that’s not really that viable an option.
    Signalling. With the SSR re-signalling project slipping further and further back, it might make sense to just hold fire a bit and only put the one system in.

    What else?
    Well, stations are pretty pricey… and there are two planned on the link. What would be the saving of not building Watford Cassiobridge? Like Watford Vicarage Road, it’s a bi-level station, about 3/4 of a mile from Croxley Station and about 3/4 of a mile from the proposed Watford Vicarage Road stop. It’s also, supposedly, a fifteen minute walk from the existing Watford Met station. What if they split the service and retained the existing Watford station? There is an argument that the those wishing to save the Met station as a passenger terminus rather than just as a stabling yard should just suck it up because it’s only a fifteen minute walk, but that argument swings both ways. If you draw a 0.55m circle around Cassiobridge, which is the straight-line distance to the Met station, you find only a few hundred households that would benefit from the station. Most of the catchment area for the Cassiobridge station is the Croxley Business Park, a worthy source of travellers for sure, but it’s already well established as a road destination. What would be the effect of splitting the service? Well, there are already talks of 4tph over the MLX and 6tph at Croxley, with reversers at the Met. LR has already looked at the effect of the CRL on the frequency of trains on the Met core. One wonders if this could be a compromise solution.

  16. John Bull says:

    Minor quibble: your use of respectively is incorrect I think, it implies Khan was minister and Grayling was shadow given the ordering earlier in the paragraph.

    Fair point – fixed!

  17. TRT says:

    What’s more the pity is that the “Health Campus” road has destroyed utterly the old “southern curve” of the Wiggenhall Road triangle. Had this been left in place, an alternative to building the viaduct over Two Bridges would have been to re-bridge Wiggenhall Road and divert some or all of the LOROL services over the CRL’s existing, renovated, route, leaving Watford with three, disconnected, termini/destinations; the Met for Cassiobury, the LOROL for Croxley Green/Cassiobridge and LM/Southern/LOROL for the Junction. Northbound LOROL trains could have reversed at Cassiobridge and gone north to Watford High Street, or in reverse for Southbound trains. Not an ideal solution, but far cheaper than the civil works for the viaduct.

  18. timbeau says:

    “the main beneficiaries would be people going into Watford to commute or shopping etc. You are not going to get many people from Watford Junction wanting to commute into London via the Metropolitan line when they can catch a fast non-stop train to Euston.”
    Lea Valley Liner makes the argument that encouraging this may be counter to the mayor’s remit. But even if the retail experience that is Watford is such an attraction, TfL already runs a service closely shadowing the Metropolitan Line, but more direct and slightly faster, through the London Boroughs of Camden, Brent and Harrow, to both Watford High Street and the Junction. The catchment areas of both stations overlap considerably and I think of all the Overground lines this one has shown the smallest increase in traffic – indeed, uniquely, there is a plan to reduce the lengths of the trains from 5 cars (class 378) to four (class 710). So there is no need to relieve an overcrowded line, and such traffic as may be attracted will include a significant number merely transferring their allegiance from orange to purple, with no additional revenue for TfL.

    (Journey Planner times:
    Wembley Central to Watford High Street 22 minutes,
    Wembley Park to Watford 28 minutes).

    “Watford Hospital station doesn’t exist. wasn’t in the plan”
    I think the proposed names have changed more than once (Ascot Road has become Cassiobridge) and I recall that Vicarage Road was at one time to have been called Watford Hospital. It is very much still in the plan.

    @ Mark Chapman
    “Fewer stations will get this built, hopefully.”
    @ Original article
    “The current Watford Metropolitan line station will close and be replaced by three new stations”
    Both Croxley and Watford High Street are very much already open, and have been since 1925 and 1862 respectively. Only two new stations are proposed: Vicarage Road and Cassiobridge. The former, serving the hospital, is very much the raison d’etre of the project. The latter might be dispensible on a pure accountancy basis, but politically difficult as most current users of Watford Met would expect to transfer to it. It might perhaps be sacrificed if Watford Met is kept open, as has been suggested (the track is to be retained as a turnback facility anyway)
    How much saving would be achieved by forgetting the new viaduct, at least for now, and simply re-opening the Croxley Green branch, maybe only as far as Vicarage Road?

    @Lea Valley Liner
    “It would be eminently logical if Three Rivers and Watford together formed a London borough”
    Likewise certain other boroughs, most notably Epsom & Ewell. Now, I wonder who is the MP there?

  19. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Interesting view of things. I note the emphasis on “TfL deciding” but isn’t the reality that TfL didn’t decide anything. The former Mayor issued two Mayoral Decisions and associated Directions that TfL is required to follow. Any subsequent Board or lower level Cttee decision was a “rubber stamp” to ensure the internal governance Standing Orders were complied with. My reading of the recent history has been that the decision to “proceed” was essentially part of a political decision package put together by George Osborne to ensure key areas (with marginal seats) got some nice pressies before the 2015 election. Mayor Johnson just happened to have the means to help out given the mess that Herts CC had got the project into. Therefore he effectively did a deal with the former Chancellor to “rescue” Croxley Rail Link and to fill in the funding situation so the local Watford MP could go “ta da, I rescued the Croxley Rail Link”. This explains the “unusual” use of the Growth Fund. I note the deft wording from Mr Jones’ statement that North West London is a beneficiary of the scheme when previously it was all about Watford.

    I’m going to upset everyone and say the Mayor should bin TfL’s funding and role in all of this. I recognise the issues around any cancellation being hung round TfL’s neck forever but so what. This is not a London scheme even if a few people might jump on a train rather than a bus to get from Harrow to Watford. TfL was instructed to take on this work and to carry the programme and cost overrun risk. It may well have its corporate view as to what this means but the former Mayor saddled them with a fairly open ended potential bill. Given the parlous state of TfL’s budget and the obvious risks to it from the fares freeze and any of the underlying assumptions not being reflected in reality then I don’t see it as appropriate that London faces a £50m/£70m/£100m/£who knows how much bill for a smallish, relatively unimportant scheme that benefits Hertfordshire. It’s also ironic that at the time that HCC is chucking millions at this scheme it has axed the funding for TfL bus routes that run into Herts. It remains to be seen what TfL do about that although it is proposing a small cut to the 298 bus at Potters Bar. However it has also confirmed that Essex’s funding cut will set the 167 bus cut back next year. Therefore a similar prospect must be likely for buses into Herts.

    If TfL can’t be trusted to run some suburban trains in South London that might occasionally trundle into Kent or Surrey then, by the same impeccanle “Grayling” logic, it is surely ludicrous for TfL to be building and then operating a new service into Hertfordshire. In several respects the Croxley Rail Link is a more impactful and risky endeavour than tendering a contract for a rail service and painting a few stations. TfL clearly can’t do the latter according to Grayling so surely Mr G MUST remove the Croxley scheme from the evil clutches of City Hall immediately. If not then, shock horror, perhaps there is a great deal of rubbish and hypocritical claptrap being spoken by certain people. The last few weeks must have been the worst for transport matters in London for many a year.

  20. Dr m Buckton says:

    Suggestion to tfl run a bus route and save£345 million.

  21. MikeP says:

    @Graham H – yes, realised that immediately
    @WW – I think you’re entirely right, and TfL should walk. The great shame is that all concept of partnership working is getting thrown right out of the window. Clearly, now London is The Wrong Colour, any thought of devolving more powers that way are dead and buried. We can expect four years of blame throwing.

  22. ngh says:

    I suspect we will see some cost savings on like for like basis with a redesign and different model for tendering for different parts of the work.
    But plenty of extra items that await to be discovered.
    How much of the existing sunk cost has been efficiently spent could also be “interesting”. And TfL might sling this back at Herts

    Re TRT,

    “extra trains” Only 1 extra unit was required and that was delivered in the last fortnight.

  23. Ian Sergeant says:

    If this does get binned I will be pleased. If you actually looked at the BCR to Londoners, I feel it would be far less than Uckfield to Lewes, which we are constantly told we can’t go ahead with because there isn’t enough benefit. Also look at what we are funding, as people have already started to allude to:

    1) People from Harrow to shop in Watford rather than London;
    2) People from Rickmansworth to send their children to grammar schools in Watford.

    Why should a Labour Mayor be supporting those objectives?

  24. Jim Cobb says:

    I struggle to understand why the costs always keep up in these sorts of projects. I understand that the original budget may have been under-estimated for political reasons, but in 5 years to cost has more than doubled and will be triple if the £350m comes true. That isn’t just about under-estimation – something strange is going on with the costs of major infrastructure projects.

    Compare these costs to the cost of the Borders railway reopening in 2015 – this cost £294m (2012 prices) for 30 miles of track and 7 new stations, using a formation which had closed in 1969. How can a project to reopen a couple of miles of track with 2 new stations cost the same ?

    I know this is a different type of project so the costs are not completely comparable, but come on, they are not *that* different. Inflation is running at an historical low, so 2012 prices will be similar to 2016 prices. Does the London building boom mean that constructions firms can change a huge premium for this sort of project ?

    It is not just this particular project – all large infrastructure projects are costing a lot more than they used to. It would be worth putting one of these projects through forensic accounting to find out where every single penny goes !!

  25. RogerB says:

    Hear hear!

  26. Jim Cobb says:

    Just to add another data point to the conversation, the Ebbw Vale line was reopened in 2005 at cost of £28.6m (2003 prices). This covered 18 miles of track, of which 14 were upgraded from a recently disused freight line and 4 relaid on disused formation, along with 6 new stations. Adjusting for inflation, this would now cost a whopping £40.8m.

    This project wasn’t straighforward budget wise as the increase from the estimate of £15m in 2002, or £20m at todays prices, called into question the viability of the project.

    I won’t add anymore comparisons as I hope you see my point – £284m for a couple of miles of track and a couple of stations ? People have lost sight of what is a reasonable cost.

  27. TRT says:

    @timbeau The original wording had three new stations mentioned, including Cassiobridge, Vicarage Road and Watford Hospital. It was amended, but is still partially erroneous, Watford High Street is, of course, not a new station, but it would be new to the Metropolitan line!

  28. timbeau says:

    At one point the text listed four new stations, but that list included both Croxley and Watford High Street. Vicarage Road and Watford Hospital are, of course, the same station.

  29. Facey Romford says:

    As a local bloke I can tell you that TFL cut down trees, moved some services and went away again. The new line will help enormously because some of the communities served in west Watford and Cassiobridge are not very prosperous. I’m afraid that most people don’t understand or care about distinctions between local authorities. TFL already run trains to Croxley and Watford Met so why is the new line (which would link to the TFL overground at Watford High Street) such a difficulty. Sheer bureaucratic obstructionism.

  30. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ J Cobb – I agree with your broad point that something’s not right about the basis on which the Croxley Link was cost estimated and what has then happened in respect of expected costs. However I am not sure your comparison with simple rail reinstatement schemes is quite fair. Both examples had no new rolling stock costs (AFAIK), are not electrified and probably have fairly simple signalling needs. They were also in essentially rural areas where construction working restrictions would be much lower than in an urban area.

    The Croxley Link almost certainly has constraints in terms of how much noise the works can generate, how much site traffic can be borne on local roads and much higher end state environmental protection to reduce noise intrusion. I also have a sneaking suspicion (no evidence, just a hunch) that whatever work was done to assess the state of the former infrastructure and bridges and impact on utilities was woefully poor. The new link also has to cope with new signalling, new power infrastructure and I fear there is a nice little financial time bomb ticking away called “integrating the Croxley Rail Link into NR’s DC tracks and signalling system”. I also think there are other problems like construction inflation in and around London as you suggest. There are worrying signs of cost escalation and contractor issues on Crossrail – big issues being reported at Paddington station with electrical work months behind schedule and unions wanted enhanced “productivity” payments across the project. Shades of 1999 and JLE opening pressures.

    The other “nasty” is the impact of the local MP. Just for mild amusement I looked at his website recently and noted he is campaigning for improvements to Watford Junction station and also he wants the Met to carry on serving the existing Watford station. Both of these campaigns represent potential scope creep as we have no idea how, if or when they will be resolved and who gets landed with the bill. If I was TfL I’d be asking some very serious questions of local stakeholders about what they really want and making them aware of the consequences. For as long as there is the potential for scope creep / change then I’d not be letting any contracts. We have the lesson of Crossrail here – decide what you want and stick to it and only allow a change if those directly in charge of decision making are also in charge of the money and are then forced to sign in blood if they sanction a scope change.

    I’m afraid I don’t see a particularly easy way of these issues. Ngh may be right that you can adjust the scope, trim some costs out of design, rejig the programme and do better on procuring contractors but if people won’t leave the scope alone and there are design aspects, like the signalling, that aren’t finalised then it’s had to know you’ve got your costs contained.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Would it be possible to defuse the TfL “not London” issue by re-imagining this scheme as a link from WFJ out to Bucks for the purpose of Chiltern services via the north curve, possibly linked in to East West Rail, or is that line on a map fantasy stuff taking no account of reality? As an ex-Watfordian, I’m sure there was mention of a possible Chiltern service at one point in the long history of this scheme?

  32. TRT says:

    @timbeau At one point in the planning, the station plan was: Croxley Green (Ascot Road/Cassiobridge), West Watford, Watford Hospital (new station inside the Health Campus zone), Watford High Street.
    The Health Campus site was considered too close to Watford High Street, the old Stadium Halt was on a bad gradient (out of spec for modern standards apparently), West Watford was too narrow to allow both a two track station and the uprated section supply gear that would need to go in at that point. So they compromised and it’s going where it’s shown on the plan, Vicarage Road. Far from ideal for hospital visitors as it’s a steep gradient down off the bridge, then a steep gradient up-hill to the hospital. Still, they don’t care about mobility given the arrangement of the new car park which is further from the tower and lower down the steep hill than ever before.

  33. Malcolm says:

    Anonymous refers to “defusing the not-London issue”. If services between stations in Watford and other Met stations (Moor Park to Aldgate) are perceived as not-London, then services between Watford and Chiltern stations (Aylesbury to Bedford and Oxford) are even more not-London, and thus even less deserving of any claim on TfL budgets.

  34. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    London building construction inflation (not the same but it is well benchmarked) has been running at circa 10% for a while now.

    Some cost saving though revised design/spec would certainly have more of an impact locally, but if the locals want it then acceptance of more disruption is probably on the cards.
    The big question is what can be changed within the scope of the TWA order – I have a sneaking suspicion that Herts in trying to get local support as high as possible originally proposed a scheme that cost a lot more than it could have if engineered with less political interference. Slight tweaks to station design should make things cheaper. More compulsory purchase in places might also be a cheaper solution.

    If you take the chosen design and work backwards to examine the logic that went in, there is stuff that doesn’t make sense if cost minimisation is high up your priority list.

  35. Greg Tingey says:

    Watford & the adjoining seats seem to be haled by the tories …
    Therefore, if Grayling continues as he has begun, from Khan’s p.o.v., TfL could easily enrage the good people of that area, whilst neatly blaming Mr G, it seems.
    Nothing actually to do with useful transport links, just “politics”.
    Um, errr …..

  36. Jim Cobb says:

    @WW – All good reasons for increased costs, but there doesn’t seem to be enough to warrant such large differences. Yes there will be an uplift for urban railways, an uplift for electrification, an uplift for complex integrations, but is it really that much more. The Borders line goes through several towns so there is probably just as much work in urban areas, it probably also has more signalling over the entire length than the Croxley link has.

    Anyway, I agree we shouldn’t get too hung up on direct comparisons as every project is different. I just struggle with understanding why there is such a large gap.

    I also agree about scope creep – of course, if they didn’t spend so long discussing and agreeing projects, there would be less time for scope creep to happen.

  37. Tolpits Tom says:

    A very good article as always. A couple of corrections:

    1. There are two new stations, Cassiobridge and Watford Vicarage Road (Watford High Street is existing).

    2. Taylor Woodrow have not been ‘removed’ from the project. They are still present on the project under the Stage 1 contract. More correctly they have not been awarded the contract for the construction (Stage 2).

  38. Andrew says:

    Why isn’t the funding agreement in the public domain? I guess there are three parties, all public bodies: HCC, DfT, and TfL. Is it amenable to an FOI request?

    From what we can see in the public documents, it seems Boris did indeed take the political decision to require TfL to take on the funding risk. Presumably Sadiq could now require TfL not to do that, perhaps on the grounds that this is not the sort of thing the Growth Fund is for. Unfortunately doing that would not help his case to take on other suburban rail lines.

    Truth be told, there is no way TfL would build anything similar to the Metropolitan line out to Buckinghamshire, if it were proposed now.

  39. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Andrew – I suspect that old get out clause of “commercial confidentiality” might well rule out release of the funding agreement. I’m not sure it’s needed really given what’s in the last paper that went to the TfL Board in Nov 2015. That sets out the parameters and also the changes since July 2015. Of course the context in the November was the Autumn Statement and being able to announce something positive.

  40. Si says:

    PoP wrote: “Whilst there will be the occasional person from Croxley or even Moor Park who may use the service to get to Watford, it is intended more for people who live in London.”

    Absolutely – Northwood and Pinner are the key places that gain here (other than Watford) – they are Watford hinterland as much as being hinterland of elsewhere and they don’t have access to the DC lines (contra timbeau talking about Wembley as if it was relevant). Watford Town Centre is a major employment area for Londoners who live in the north of Hillingdon and Harrow boroughs and a 51 year old border (OK, ancient as it’s the Middlesex-Herts border) shouldn’t be a barrier.

    Also having somewhere useful at the end makes the Watford branch less of a long reversing siding that doesn’t justify it’s current service level, but gets it due to a lack of a place to short turn.

    MikeP wrote: “and as we must remember that it is Transport for London, and not Transport of London (aka London Transport), for very good reasons. London’s success depends on effective, reliable and affordable transport beyond its borders.”

    Indeed, which is why the work Boris did with the Herts, Surrey and Kent needs to be kept up, which this worry-causing quietness about MLX is undermining.

    Ian Sergeant wrote: 1) People from Harrow to shop in Watford rather than London;
    2) People from Rickmansworth to send their children to grammar schools in Watford.

    1) Watford is far the bigger shopping centre. They’d go to Watford anyway, but by car.
    2) I don’t think that anyone is saying this and given the Grammar School is closer to Watford Met, rather than Cassiobridge, the MLX makes it worse for them.

    And it’s not like Northwood, Pinner, etc kids don’t go to school in Watford. My class at a genuine (rather than name-only, but somehow able to make prospective students sit entry tests) Grammar School in Amersham had a lot of Greater London residents use the Met line from Northwood, Pinner, etc to get to school – something that (if I time trips to London wrong) is still very much the case (with pupils even changing onto the Uxbridge branch at Harrow).

    MLX is relevant for London, even though it’s not within the boundaries. That Herts might gain more is fine – they are paying more into the pot, even if TfL pays all the cost overruns.

  41. Malcolm says:

    Andrew says that TfL would not build anything like the Met to Bucks if it were proposed now.

    True enough. But that is entirely the result of the choice that was made of where Greater London’s boundaries would be. Other choices could have been made.

    Not that it would have affected the Met in Bucks, but what now looks like a more sensible boundary for many London purposes would have been the inner edge of the Green Belt. But that may be ill-defined in itself, and, like any boundary which does not co-incide with a geographical one (like the coast), there would still be many anomalies and scopes-for-argument created, wherever it had been put.

  42. Mr Beckton says:

    So it’s now nearly £300m for a half-mile viaduct and reinstating some track on an existing trackbed. Every time the works are redesigned (and re-redesigned) it seems to add another £50m to the cost, for apparently no extra functionality. And TfL is expected to pick up all of any further cost overrun, even though it’s outside his patch completely.

    I see the project costs currently include for design as well as building it. However many more times does it have to be designed, it has been done multiple times already.

    If I were Mr Khan (or any other Mayor) I would have binned this one straight away, as delivering poor value for money for London and being a basic idea from train buffs who want to join the dots on a map.

    Looking at other suburban services that loop round to terminate in outlying towns on a main line, they are characterised by very little use at their extremities. Look at the Guildford Direct trains via Effingham Junction. By the time you get to Guildford itself you are commonly the only one in the carriage. The GN Hertford Loop line seemingly carries so few passengers through to Stevenage that it is being seriously proposed to terminate it at Watton, with just a bus connection onward – the reverse of the Watford scheme.

    One of the principal upsides is meant to be those from Pinner etc can now go shopping easily in Watford. The shops in Watford are pretty much like-for-like with those in Harrow, which is of course inside London while Watford is outside. Why London taxpayers should pay money for people to change their shopping from inside London to outside is a question to be put.

    Usefulness of connections onto main line trains northwards at Watford Junction would have been relevant when many main line trains stopped there, but, probably within the lifetime of developing the scheme, Virgin have given up many calls there, on the grounds that there is not enough fast line capacity to do so any more.

  43. Malcolm says:

    Mr Beckton: All suburban services are nearly empty near their outer terminus, regardless of whether that terminus is also on a main line or not.

  44. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Si – at this stage it is simply not possible to say that HCC will pay more than LU. We do not know the extent of any cost overrun. If it was to be substantial then LU may end up paying more and that’s before we get to the issue of ongoing operating and maintenance costs vs revenues. Looking at the numbers if the overrun was as high as the £70m suggested earlier then LU would be bearing total capital costs within spitting distance of the combined contributions for HCC / Watford BC sources.

    I have a vague memory that the scheme is supposed to earn more revenue than the regular operating cost but I’m a tad sceptical about that. Beyond that you have a whole load of future costs for renewals etc. If the new line loses money to a significant extent then LU has to carry that until matters improve somehow. That will be largely dependent on factors outside of LU’s control like the economy and the scale of local activity / growth in Watford. Without being daft about where you draw the line as to an evaluation period and what volume of renewals fall within that period then I can see LU bearing a significant cost in building and then running this line. And what benefit *to London* do you set against that burden? Not much from what I can see and given the lack of people commuting to Central London from the extension on the Met Line then LU isn’t going to rack up a lot of high fares. People are more likely to go via Watford Junction where London Midland will take a decent share of any revenue into Z1. London Midland also price Watford Junction fares so no fares freeze either for trips to the main northern destination on the route.

    While rummaging around on the Internet I managed to find a copy of the Funding Letter from the DfT authorising the project and funding arrangements. It is crystal clear that TfL are solely responsible for any and all cost overruns.

    Funding Letter

  45. timbeau says:

    “All suburban services are nearly empty near their outer terminus, regardless of whether that terminus is also on a main line or not.”

    Not so, there is a considerable commuter flow to Reading, for example.

  46. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    That letter is a good reminder that people need to start reading the ultimate source and not relying on Chinese whispers and interpretations thereof.

    “P50 Estimate of £284.4m” – really?!?

    HMT Green book supplement for interpreting the letter for avoidance of any doubt as to the meaning of certain words:

  47. Tolpits Tom says:

    It’s worth noting with respect to timescales for commencement that the absolute latest the works must start is 21st August 2018 (five years after the TWAO comes into force as dictated by condition one of the Secretary of State’s decision letter).

  48. Malcolm says:

    timbeau: You’re quite right. “All” should have been “Many”.

    But that does not affect my basic point, that any near-emptiness of suburban trains near the outer terminus is unrelated to whether their line “loops round” or not.

  49. Anonymously says:

    Well, now that’s what I call a Sword of Damocles if ever I saw one 😈.

    I think it would be a pity to axe this useful extension, but I accept the financial case for it is fairly marginal at best. However, the political fireworks caused by its cancellation would be so great that I predict someone (probably but not necessarily TfL…as others have said, TfL’s Overground aspirations will suffer a killer blow if they kill this project due to it ‘not being in London’) will cough up the required money in the end.

    One thought….has the collapse in the pound’s value this year (unforeseeable at the time it was approved) had any major impact on the final predicted costs of the extension?

    @Malcolm….Don’t forget that it also reflects the Met’s original aspirations to be a proper, ‘mainline’ rail company, that just happened to link with an underground, urban section. It was their unwillingness to give up this section which caused it to be wholly absorbed (along with the strikingly non-urban lines out in the shires!) into LT back in the day.

    How Greater London acquired its current boundaries in the 60s is almost worth an article on its own! The relevant Wikipedia article has most of the details, but in summary, it had as much to do with local politicking as it had to do with geography and governmental efficiency. Hence the exclusion of certain areas on the periphery (e.g. Watford and Dartford) that one might naturally regard as part of the London conurbation. Still, this doesn’t explain the rather odd inclusion (from my point of view) of the southern half of LB Bromley, which unless someone can correct me is probably the most ‘rural’ area within the Greater London boundary which is not designated as parkland?

  50. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously: Totteridge is an authentic (if pricey) little village, but it and its surrounding fields do not amount in total area to anything like the swathes of countryside surrounding Biggin Hill, so I’d agree with you there. (There are also various other patches of farmland here and there, but they’re all smallish).

  51. Anonymous Pedant says:

    As others have said, £350m is an extraordinary amount of money to reinstate a closed branch line and build a viaduct.

    In these situations surely the sharp approach is to reduce scope to allow the project to proceed with the money available. The obvious way to do that here is to reduce one or both of the new stations to passive provision only for now and put the onus back onto Herts to find the extra cash for them. After all, the new stations are the aspect that clearly benefits Herts residents more than outward travelling Londoners….

    The cost of stations seems to have hemorrhaged of late with the access requirements, though I can’t fathom how installing a couple of lifts now seems to cost tens of millions.

  52. Anonymously says:

    @Malcolm….Agreed. The only explanation I can fathom out was that no one in government made any serious attempt to split the old Orpington UDC, so as to attach the more urbanised parts (Orpington, the Crays and immediately adjoining areas) to LB Bromley and leave the rest in Kent CC (perhaps as part of an expanded Sevenoaks district). It was either all or none of it. The irony though is that Knockholt *did* manage to get itself reattached to Kent a few short years later through local campaigning. Why the nearby residents in Downe/Cudham/Biggin Hill etc didn’t press for this as well at the time is anyone’s guess….

  53. timbeau says:

    @Anonymous pedant
    Missing out the stations means missing out on the revenue those stations will generate, making it even more of a loss maker. It would also be politically unacceptable to close Watford station without providing a replacement on the new line.

  54. timbeau says:

    “Hence the exclusion of certain areas on the periphery (e.g. Watford and Dartford) that one might naturally regard as part of the London conurbation. ”

    And of course Mr Grayling’s own constituency. Here he is showing the door to another mode of transport

  55. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Of course the cyclist was “speeding”… I translate that as “going faster than his car”, which as a former central London cyclist really isn’t that difficult!

  56. timbeau says:

    ““going faster than his car””

    I assume Mr Grayling has enough common sense not to try to get out of a moving car.

    Perhaps all motor vehicles should have someone on board responsible for the safe operation of the doors.

  57. Ian Sergeant says:


    Thinking about Biggin Hill opting out of London, my immediate reaction was to say “we should cut the 320 bus back to Bromley Common if they did that!”. Then I realised how daft that is. Just as the trains from the periphery such as Dartford bring people into Central London, the 320 bus primarily brings people into Bromley to shop and work. Any improved service on buses and trains from the periphery benefits town, so anyone thinking that services would be cut short at the Greater London boundary if under TfL control is not in the real world. TSLO had – and I believe still has – support across the political spectrum, and should not be used as a political football.

  58. Graham H says:

    @Ian Sergeant – perhaps it depends on whether there is a major traffic objective at the country end. In the case of Bromley, there is a howling wasteland in traffic terms to much of the south but if you look at, say, the 258, linking Harrow to Watford, the traffic is essen tially composed into 2- maybe overlapping – catchment areas, with few making the through trip.Certainly,it’s operationally convenient to run through and it offers an unbroken journey opportunity, but one can imagine, it wouldn’t be disastrous if the service was broken at Bushey Heath. In that sense, the 258 is much more like a traditional country interurban route – and most of those exist, not for the end to end journeys, but as a string of fairly separate markets. To illustrate, my local 70 and 71 between Guildford and Haslemere has virtually no through traffic (usually just me) but is fairly heavily used at either end as a local service. Horses for courses, perhaps?

  59. Nameless says:

    I should have thought that a person cycling in the narrow gap between a stationary queue of traffic and the kerb (which is not marked as a cycle lane) would consider the likelihood of a passenger opening a door to get out and then adjust his speed accordingly.

  60. IslandDweller says:

    Nameless at 1400. How do you know the gap was narrow?

  61. Nameless says:

    The video was on a few websites. About a couple of feet.

  62. marek says:

    I would have thought that a person getting out of a car in mid traffic without the car having pulled in to the side of the road would consider the likelihood of cyclists being present and adjust his behaviour accordingly.

  63. Nameless says:

    What about Highway Code Rule 67?

    @ marek
    Passenger could well have considered that there wasn’t room for a bike to pass. Rear passengers don’t have door mirrors. Perhaps cars should be fitted with cameras with DOO doors.

  64. ngh says:

    Re marek,

    That bit of road has double yellow lines with certain other retrictions such as “no waiting” zones, so the driver might have been less likely to pull in with plenty of armed officers not to far away on the other side of the road…

    Marsham Street to Parliament is an easy quick walk.

  65. Malcolm says:

    I suggest that this was one of the many street incidents where finding out exactly who was at fault is pointless. The blame is almost certainly shared between two or more people, no great harm seems to have been done to anyone or anything, and if it wasn’t for the “celebrity” angle, it would not have been at all worthy of a news item, let alone discussion in these hallowed portals.

    A return to discussing the Metropolitan Line Extension is recommended.

  66. Timbeau says:


    I see your rule 67 and raise rule 238.

    The driver has mirrors, even if the passenger does not.

    Anyway, surely this discussion belongs on the “who works the doors” thread.

  67. Timbeau says:

    Rule 239 I meant.

  68. Hayes Cyclists says:

    A fascinating game of political chess unfolding here. Surely the lines being staked out here could really shift the balance of prioritisation consideration for a range of cross boundary schemes?

  69. Anonymously says:

    @Ian Sargeant…..I’m not suggesting that the southern half of Bromley is allowed to secede from London *now*! I was just expressing my puzzlement that it was included within the Greater London boundary at the time of the 1963 act, when other areas (including Chris Grayling’s ‘hood’ of Epsom & Ewell) managed to get themselves excluded.

    Given the relevance of the Greater London boundary to decisions regarding the Croxley Link, I’ll leave it to the moderators’ shears to decide if we’re allowed to discuss this further (i.e. where should the boundaries of Greater London lie, and should they change?) or not……

  70. @Anonymously

    “I’ll leave it to the moderators’ shears to decide if we’re allowed to discuss this further (i.e. where should the boundaries of Greater London lie, and should they change?) or not……”

    As this is London Reconnections, not London Boundaries, let’s stick with transport discussions please. LBM

  71. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – I assume your point is why on earth did the parties sign up to an agreement with such a poor level of certainty on the estimate (P50)? I couldn’t face reading the entire set of Green Book guidance but a couple of relevant bits state that no one should set a working project budget to form part of agreement when significant elements are not reliably priced / risk assessed. One therefore must ask why the former Mayor effectively forced TfL to accept a budget which was still based on relatively uncertain numbers *and* to carry the cost overrun risk. Did he understand what he was taking on on behalf of TfL?? The DfT, HCC, Watford Council and the local LEP must have thought Christmas had come when they were all relieved of any cost risks on their respective contributions.

  72. Lawyerboy says:

    @WW Indeed, and TfL are smart enough to see that too and advise the then Mayor of the fact. (Anybody up for an FOI on the advice from TfL on the point?). So the story here is “blame Boris” [for directing TfL to take on said risk]. And the question is, what did he get in return? Only by asking the latter question can one work out whether the overall arrangement has worked in (Greater) London’s interest

  73. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    More that the P50 estimate was nearer a P95 estimate in reality…
    In a logical world taking it on at more than P30 was ill advised.

    A bit of background for other readers:
    [P50 is defined as 50% of estimates exceed the P50 estimate (and by definition, 50% of estimates are less than the P50 estimate). It is a good middle estimate. P90 and P10 are low and high estimates respectively.
    P90 means 90% of the estimates exceed the P90 estimate. It does not mean that the estimate has a 90% chance of occurring .]

  74. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – ta, my brain is clearly getting confuddled about the meaning of P50 etc. I take your point that reality was (is) somewhat out of step with whoever provided the estimates and associated level of confidence. And now, it seems, the “chickens have come home to roost” and are pecking at TfL’s piggy bank.

  75. Taz says:

    Early on the idea was to open the new branch, then sell the current terminus to help pay for it. It was then found that the cost of new stabling roads and an emergency reversing point was more than proceeds of sale, so retained for non-passenger use. But this year TfL found NR uncertainty about when a signalled junction would be available meant an emergency reversing point at Vicarage Road would allow service to commence thus far. Also useful in future if problems on NR section. That will be part of cost escalation.

  76. Malcolm says:

    WW: No, I understood ngh to be saying two seperate things. One is that the estimate, being labelled as P50, was therefore unsuitable to be made the subject of such a commitment. And also that the estimate should anyway not have been labelled as P50, but as P95. (Not saying this with hindsight, but just that it should have been so labelled because of the relatively undeveloped state of the planning). Which made Boris’ direction even more inappropriate.

    But lawyerboy’s point remains. These decision makers were probably not being careless or stupid. They probably had their reasons, it’s just that these reasons have not appeared in the public domain. Yet.

  77. Sad Fat Dad says:

    ngh – it may be a typo on your behalf, but a Pxx estimate is the level at which xx% of projects will come in below. Assuming, that us, that the estimate and associated cost risk assessment are done properly.

    Therefore half of projects will be delivered for less than their P50, 80% will be delivered for less than the P80, and 99% will be delivered for less than the P99.

    Typically, business cases are made on the P50, but funding ‘envelopes’ for larger projects are at P80. Authority to use the different levels of contingency (above point estimate, P50, etc) will be vested in progressively higher levels of governance.

  78. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm / SFD – thanks both. SFD’s explanation is much more in line with what I thought the P probability numbers meant but it’s been a few years since I was involved in any of this stuff in detail and my brain’s probably melted in the intervening period. It is certainly the case that release of TfL contingency funds on projects requires the sponsor (and possibly project manager) to go through increasing levels of agony in order to get any cash. I imagine Network Rail is similar.

  79. Malcolm says:

    I don’t think ngh’s definitions can be a typo. I suspect that the terms can be used both ways round, possibly in different fields or contexts.

    It is not helpful to define P50, because that would be the same either way round. But certainly the usage defined by Sad Fat Dad looks more logical to me.

    For budgeting for a whole string of projects, P50 might be appropriate, on a swings-and-roundabouts basis. But for a one-off, in the present context, using it looks rather fishy.

  80. Josh says:

    P50 and such terms are used in oil and gas projects when assessing the viability of field developments and different companies do them different ways round so the confusion happens everywhere.

  81. Taz says:

    Another part of this year’s cost escalation is the decision to fit two signalling systems, a conventional one for opening and then resignalling within a couple of years as the Met line new signalling reaches Croxley. This will avoid the new branch needing to await arrival of the new signalling before opening, especially as this remains uncertain at an early stage of the new contract, which has already slipped eight weeks in eight months. The first installation will probably use surplus equipment recycled from recently resignalled lines to cut costs. The new style of signalling will be of two forms, one on the new construction and another to work with NR signalling to the new terminus. The latter form has still to be developed, so disturbing the planned sequence across the network to install an isolated area in time for opening would seem unlikely at this stage.

  82. Tim says:

    @Anonymously – another interesting anomaly is the slightly odd ‘appendage’ of LB Kingston down past Chessington towards the M25/Leatherhead. That’s equally rural.

    The old Middlesex border is very relevant re the above as with Hampton Court station – where a service has to briefly enter and terminate in Surrey for passengers to access the named location – in modern LB Richmond.

    @Graham H – the wasteland in transport terms to the south of LB Bromley (A21 excepted) in the main being because of the lack of 2(?) planned M25 junctions and poor drivers having to decide between the crawl down to the Godstone junction via Warlingham / Selsdon / Farleigh or swallowing the extra 20 miles re the M25/Ringway 4 ‘bodge’…

    @timbeau – I wonder if it was the notorious Epsom & Ewell Resident’s Association (controlled the district since its inception) was behind its exclusion from Greater London?

    But what is the BCR for this scheme? What is the problem that it is trying to solve? Are there not ‘adequate’ bus routes between Watford Met station and Watford proper? The branch was notoriously underused when ‘re-opened’ and given the full Chris Green NSE treatment…

  83. Timbeau says:

    Chessington was transferred from Epsom borough to Surbiton borough in the 1930s. I don’t know whether the building of the Southern Railway’s Chessington branch had anything to do with this.
    Surbiton became part of LB Kingston when Greater London was created 30 years later, which is why Chessington forms a peninsula of Greater London sticking into Surrey.

    There is nothing sacrosanct about county boundaries. The LCC only lasted eighty years, and Greater London has undergone minor changes. New transport connections can be as good a reason as any for changing boundaries – see Merseyside for example, which would have made no sense as a political entity before the tunnels.

    North Woolwich was part of Woolwich rather than East Ham.

  84. Graham H says:

    Amidst all this discussion about London’s boundaries, it’s worth recalling that the basis of the Royal Commission’s work on London Government was on an analysis of travel to work patterns. It also avoided (possibly completely, but at this distance in time,I don’t recall that) splitting first tier authorities as far as possible -for a whole raft of practical reasons. Mr G Mander writes – fortunately, my rats got at the recommendations, excluding Staines and including the rural parts of Bromley; I was disappointed not to be able to bring in all those Tory votes in Epsom and Ewell but you can’t win them all.

  85. Alan Griffiths says:

    Timbeau 18 December 2016 at 09:27

    “North Woolwich was part of Woolwich rather than East Ham.”

    The boundaries were extraordinarily complicated. Can be seen on pre-1964 maps.

  86. Graham H says:

    @Alan Griffiths – N Woolwich – to bring the matter back to transport – was an outpost of Woolwich proper because that was where the ferry terminated in mediaeval times. [It’s fairly common,even these days, for parishes to have outliers reflecting the former need to access specialist resources such as pannage or turbary rights].

  87. answer=42 says:

    When did the ferry stop terminating in North Woolwich?
    Does this mark the end of the medieval period?

  88. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 – if you read my comment carefully, you will see that I am referring to the time when the parish boundaries were first established; it carries no implication that the ferry subsequently stopped terminating there. The Woolwich bridgehead (ferryhead?) was abolished when London local government was reformed, of course.

    Similar boundary curiosities such as the area round Barnet and Potters Bar (which reflected the holdings of S Alban’s Abbey, and their probable grazing rights in the forest that divided Middlesex from Hertfordshire in Saxon times – but, of course, with no implication that the Abbey continued to hold those lands up until 1963…) were also tidied up at that time.

  89. Mark Townend says:


    While a new junction will be required just west of High Street station, the interim signalling changes should otherwise be limited to fitting trainstops to the existing signals, assuming no further layout alterations are proposed at Watford Junction. When the final Met signalling is installed, I would expect some kind of Seltrac overlay on the existing signalling in the shared section rather than a complete renewal. On the new track between Croxley and High Street, clearly there needs to be an interim solution. That could be simple relay based automatic colour light signals with train stops. For the planned ten minute interval service, few signals will be required. There will need to be quite a complex new junction interlocking at Croxley however, which will be the largest single item I expect. I remember discussions on LR previously about possibly removing this junction in completely to avoid this expense, but seeing as stabling on the existing line is still planned, then this may not be possible.

  90. Malcolm says:

    Presumably the junction at Croxley can be a single lead one. I don’t know if that would save much money, but the large number of them on the national rail network suggests that they have been thought a worthwhile economy.

  91. Anonymously says:

    @Tim…..Actually, it’s not the absence of two M25 junctions causing the issue you describe; rather, the absence of half of the planned Ringway 3! More details can be found on the CBRD website.

    @Graham H….But there are plenty of examples of first-tier authorities both in London and elsewhere that have been split up (e.g. Chislehurst and Sidcup UD was divvied up between Bromley and Bexley along the line of the A20), so why should this be such a practical problem? The cynic in me wonders if it is all down to Mr G Mander…..but in that case, why include the sparsely populated southern half of Bromley, and not other more densely populated areas (e.g. Staines, Epsom and other adjoining areas of Surrey) that are likely to vote along similar political lines?

  92. Mark Townend says:


    A single lead junction would require four point ends, each with its actuating mechanism, backdrives, additional detection switch boxes as necessary. By contrast a double junction with fixed diamond has only two point ends. Less equipment to purchase and to go wrong in the future, as well as the layout being intrinsically safer operationally. Fixed diamonds were a feature disliked by many track engineers historically, although they are much preferable to switched diamonds, which are notoriously difficult to maintain in adjustment and should be avoided where possible. Fixed diamonds are speed limited in typical double junction layouts due to constraints on their minimum crossing angle forcing short and thus tightly curved turnouts. Latest track design standards using stiffer heavier rail actually squeeze a little more speed potential out of such short turnouts than was the case historically and in the post privatisation growth period many formerly single lead junctions have been replaced with modern fixed diamond double layouts on renewal, justified on safety, capacity and reliability grounds.

  93. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously – I suspected there were exceptions, which is why I was cautious. The North Woolwich transfer would be another, come to think of it, of course.

    The rationale for not taking in the Tory Ewell &Epsom (where the boundary runs down the middle of a street, I believe) to boost a supposedly inbuilt Tory majority in the GLC has never been clear (strings pulled, perhaps?) Whereas the exclusion of often-Labour Staines certainly was a piece of gerrymandering (as I recall, the thought had never crossed the Royal Commission’s mind); the development is pretty continuous between London and Staines with no obvious break at all. I seem to remember Watford (a swing seat)and the districts to the south of Sutton (Tory) being excluded by the Commission on the grounds that they were self-contained and not dominated either by commuting to the CAZ, or to other parts of the GLC area, but I can’t see any of those arguments applying in the case of Staines.

    BTW, how we in Middlesex laughed as in the weeks up to the transfer, Middlesex’s oldest ambulances and fire equipment suddenly transferred to Staines; the GLC didn’t laugh, of course, when the same trick was played by Kent Essex and Surrey…

  94. Mark Townend says:


    Sorry crossed wires there! I thought for a moment you meant the new High Street Junction! I agree the new junction connection at Croxley might be a single lead heading to the old line, as long as the that doesn’t complicate tying in with the remaining layout at the old Met terminal, which I assume would remain under control of the existing interlocking for the interim arrangement.

  95. Anonyminibus says:

    I understand Watford Met tracks ended in a cutting to allow a cut and cover extension through Cassiobury park towards Watford proper. What happened to that plan ?

  96. Malcolm says:

    Anonyminibus: “What happened to that plan?”. Basically, it didn’t get implemented. It would have cost more, to a terminus in central Watford without access to the interchange opportunities at Watford Junction. Although a site was envisaged for the terminus, I don’t think any other land was reserved. At the time that extension was planned the LNWR Croxley Green branch was in apparently healthy operation, it belonged to another company and did not seem to be available for anything resembling the current plan.

  97. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – after an abortive first attempt, the Met actually acquired 44 Watford High St in 1927, together with some back lands, to be accessed via a single track tunnel from the present Watford Station. Inevitably, the costs of completion were unattractive.

  98. answer=42 says:

    AKA ‘The Moon Under Water,’ as I remember it, very close to High Street Station

  99. rational plan says:

    I never thought Staines was ever Labour, it’s been solidly Tory since at least the 1980’s! It’s a pretty safe seat too.

  100. Twopenny Tube says:

    44 Watford High Street and the Met’s plans featured last time the Croxley Link was discussed on LR. See at least half way through the 400+ comments.
    Also see Railway Magazine December 1961 article by Alan Jackson.

  101. philthetube says:

    What are the revenue implications for not going ahead, I would imaging that the link would change the Watford service from a loss maker to at least a revenue nuetral one.

    Watford, like Reading, has a large commuter inflow.

  102. Graham H says:

    @TwopennyTube- yes, simply answering Malcolm’s question; it was the Alan Jackson article that I particularly had in mind.

    @rational plan – my bad: Labour in 1945 but not subsequently. Makes its exclusion very puzzling indeed.

  103. Verulamius says:

    Being brought up in Epsom and Ewell in the 1970s I was told the reason why E and E stayed in Surrey was because the MP at the time was the Attorney General and had sufficient political clout to keep the district in Surrey. How true that was I do not know.

  104. Ian J says:

    @Tim: But what is the BCR for this scheme?

    2.55:1 on the 2009 costings, rising to 2.61:1 in 2011.

    What is the problem that it is trying to solve?

    See the linked reports – broadly it is about people getting to jobs in Watford* and economic regeneration in West Watford.

    The issue then is that the GLA Growth Board has no remit to promote economic growth in Watford, so might not look as kindly on providing money for the scheme as the previous Mayor, who may have wanted to help his party colleagues in a (then) key three-way marginal ahead of a tough General Election.

    Being willing to walk away is the key to success in negotiation and there is going to have to be tough bargaining between TfL and the government. It is the government, not the Mayor, that went to an election promising to build the Croxley Link, and the main beneficiaries don’t get to vote in GLA elections, so the Mayor has the stronger negotiating position.

    The problem with the argument that the Mayor should play nice so as to obtain further devolution is that the government has already ruled out further devolution. So now he has nothing to lose in walking away.

    *The large inbound commuting to Watford being the reason it isn’t in Greater London, as Graham H has described.

  105. Anonymously says:

    ‘The problem with the argument that the Mayor should play nice so as to obtain further devolution is that the government has already ruled out further devolution. So now he has nothing to lose in walking away.’

    That’s the type of short term thinking I really hope Sadiq Khan isn’t a fan of. It’s probably more accurate to say that the *current transport secretary* has ruled out further devolution. He’s presumably not going to be in that post forever, is he? Whereas pulling the plug on the extension is likely to cause enough of a backlash to prevent *any* further rail devolution in the medium to long term. The GLCs mano-a-mano with the government (and Bromley council!) springs to mind…..who came out on top in the end there, I wonder? 😈

    @Graham H….According to Wikipedia (which cites the sources mentioned by others in this thread), the Met’s pre-WWI plans included a plan to build a terminus closer to the town centre on Hempstead Road, instead of the current terminus. However, Watford UDC (who had encouraged the Met to extend there in the first place) objected to the planned surface route through the Cassiobury Estate, which they had recently acquired to create a municipal park. The next iteration of the plan after the extension opened in the 20s was to extend (this time in tunnel) to the aforementioned 44 High Street location, but the projected costs (right at the onset of the Great Depression) killed this off as well.

  106. Anonymously says:

    Also, while we can moan about how Greater London’s boundaries don’t reflect the urban reality, when compared to some other cities internationally (notably Paris), the London ‘governed’ area and corresponding urbanised area is actually not too bad.

  107. Ian J says:

    @Anonymously: pulling the plug on the extension is likely to cause enough of a backlash to prevent *any* further rail devolution in the medium to long term

    Is that really true, though? Pulling the plug on the Croxley Link would annoy people in Watford and those who favour the scheme, but this thread suggests that support for it is not universal, and I suspect wider public awareness of the scheme is almost zero.

    The GLCs mano-a-mano with the government (and Bromley council!) springs to mind…..who came out on top in the end there, I wonder?

    Ken Livingstone spent two terms as Mayor of London, with greater powers than he had ever enjoyed as leader of the GLC, given to him by a government he got into numerous public arguments with. Compared to the overheated rhetoric and legal challenges that surrounded the Tube PPP, a quarrel over funding the Croxley Link is pretty minor – yet Livingstone was given control of the Overground.

  108. timbeau says:

    Peter Rawlinson was MP for Epsom from 1955 to 1978. On the date of the formation of the GLC in 1965 he was a member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, but he had been Solicitor General until six months previously. He was Attorney General in the Heath government of the early 1970s.

    Spelthorne constituency has been solidly Conservative since its creation in 1918, with the single exception of the 1945 election.

  109. Phil says:

    Re Ian J

    Ken Livingstone only got control of the Tube AFTER the PPP deals had been signed by the DfT – Initially all he had control over were buses, trams and the DLR and he had to wait a year or so to get control of the Tube.

    In effect Gordon Brown made sure there was no way Ken could stop it going ahead by presenting it to TfL as a done deal with enormous financial penalties due to to TfL if the contracts the winning bidders had signed up to were broken.

    Thus while Ken never hid his hatred of PPP he did the sensible thing of living with the arrangement until circumstances meant he could end the contracts in a way that didn’t cause financial or legal issues.

    With the current London Mayor having very different views to the Ministers in Whitehall, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this tactic being used again in the coming years for other things.

  110. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Phil: That should surely have set alarm bells ringing in parliament! It’s sounds the same as some probation service contracts that were let in 2014, with specific penalty clauses to try and prevent a (then) possible Labour government cancelling them after the 2015 elections.

    To my mind adding those, means that the contracts were not being let in order to achieve value for money…

  111. Malcolm says:

    Contracts with a penalty due to the private contractor if cancelled early may be considered dodgy in some way (1). But it couldn’t be on pure value-for-money criteria, since logically anything like that is likely to result in a lower payment to (or higher payment from) the contractor than if the penalty clause was absent, so on-the-face-of-it providing better vaue for the public purse.

    (1) i.e. not the act of an “honest politician”. I’ll say no more…

  112. Anonymous** says:

    One thing to note is that TfL are (largely) a user-funded organization rather than one obtaining the bulk of income from resident taxes. After fares, the next biggest source has been from national government grants. There is an argument therefore that TfL has to balance the economic needs of London, as represented by the Mayor, with the transport needs of its users, which includes those from Watford.

    This is of course a totally separate issue of whether the MLX represents value for money relative to other competing schemes – funding for projects is basically zero-sum – and considering the scare resources at their disposable. I suspect if TfL drew a list of schemes and ranked them according to economic and social benefits the MLX wouldn’t make the cut in terms of how many they could afford.

  113. timbeau says:

    A early termination clause is perfectly reasonable if the contractor has set-up costs which it expects to recoup over the life of the contract. (These may well include the costs of bidding for the contract in the first place, although of course only the winning bidder will recover those).

  114. AlisonW says:

    A flippant answer to making the Growth Fund applicable to Croxley would be to extend the ‘London’ area again. We went from the County of London to GLC / GLA and there’s a certain logic in bringing a larger proportion of the home counties commuterland into the fold. Politically unlikely, but …

    I’m also tempted to ask where all this expenditure is going as, other than building a whopping new bridge, the route is ex-permanent way so shouldn’t need massive earthworks, etc.

    That Growth Fund schemes table is rather interesting: I note an entry for £24m to the Woolwich Crossrail Station, but weren’t we told a long time ago that the station there was being added only because a developer was paying all the costs? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a BCR of zero go forward before either (E&C Northern Roundabout)!

    PS. Less “replaced by three new stations” more “replaced by two new stations and access to a third”, surely?

  115. Mr Beckton says:

    Notable in a discussion where the participants are almost all rail-favourable is the extent to which there is much discussion about the scheme being grossly expensive, delivering insufficient benefit, and being poor value for money. The actual traffic and additional revenue projections are notably missing.

    If I recall correctly it was first mooted as a simple (thus cheap, therefore worthwhile) quick connection at Croxley between two lines that were almost spitting-distance apart, otherwise it was all there. Since then the scope has somehow expanded way beyond that so it ends up costing 1/3 of a billion pounds – or maybe more. We have only seen global figures bandied around. What would be telling would be to do how a construction contractor would go through a project cost overrun, cost item by cost item, identifying just where the extra has come from, what items have inflated, why they weren’t identified in the original estimates, what “Gold Plating” took place, etc. It appears that every time it is looked at another £50m or more is added to the estimate.

    Not only that, but a not insignificant number of Watford residents (and voters) around Cassiobury have mounted a campaign against closing the current, not notably well used, terminus. Actually, I suspect this stuff about TfL needing its site to continue in use to turn trains round is a smokescreen, surely the local train sidings and crew base for the line is at Rickmansworth, and TfL were just avoiding, until after closure, the upset which would be caused by selling the current significant site for housing development, which I thought would be a significant part of the financial justification.

    The current preferred contractor is apparently off the job now, but for some reason is still working on the first design/enabling stage. Their national head offices are ironically right alongside one of the extension stations, and the staff must have considerable local familiarity with the area.

    I do wonder if the somewhat surprising arrangement for TfL to bear all the cost liability for capital spending outside their area is somehow connected to a discussion between the former Mayor and the former Chancellor to bury the costs of something that looked politically expedient for Watford, with TfL being looked on “favourably” at some future point as a quid-pro-quo. Both personalities have of course now moved on to pastures new, which may well be how a new Mayor, of whatever political persuasion, looks at the arrangement with a jaundiced eye.

    Operation by one political organisation across a border to another area is a well established aspect of all forms of transport, but is invariably confined to the actual operation rather than new major capital works, where each area normally looks after its own. This would apply to any takeover by TfL of suburban services – TfL operate trains to Amersham and Chesham, fine, but pay for building a theoretical complete new alignment from Amersham round to Chesham to operate them as one service, that’s not for TfL to pay for – it would be for Bucks County and the National Government to sort out.

  116. Anonymously says:

    @Mr Beckton…..The same was said though about the Borders Railway project, and yet that now seems to be regarded as a success? There can’t be very many genuine public transport ‘white elephant’ projects that have been built in recent years*, unless you include those which failed to include a major traffic objective at the outset (e.g. the Midland Metro, which until very recently didn’t run into the centre of Birmingham)?

    *And before anyone points out the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, my response is that the demand for better public transport along that corridor is definitely there, only the mode chosen (a concrete busway) may in the long term turn out to be the wrong one.

  117. Anonymously says:

    @Ian J…..The thing though is that the one party who will *definitely* be aggrieved by the loss of the extension is Herts CC, which is of special importance to TfL due to the number of Tube/rail services it already operates into that county, and the ones it would like to take over in the future (e.g. the remaining WAML services and GN services to Hertford and Welwyn). It would also not go unnoticed by the county councils on the opposite side of the river (Kent & Surrey), and make them seriously wonder if TfL is genuinely committed to improving services that run into areas not under the GLA’s control, should it take over rail services in South London.

  118. Taz says:

    @ Mr Beckton 19 December 2016 at 18:01 Rickmansworth stabling is all fully used overnight, and the track layout does not suit service reversing, only emergency use. We are left that sale of Watford station was estimated to raise less than the cost of new stabling and emergency reversal facilities. Only difference is now emergency reversal crossover is also planned for Vicarage Road. Watford provides four trains for service.

  119. Mark Townend says:


    An emergency reversal facility at Vicarage Road AS WELL as being able to use the connection to the old line for that purpose at Croxley seems a tad excessive, especially for the interim period where it could add significantly to the complexity and cost of the temporary signalling.

  120. Ian J says:

    @Mr Beckton: The actual traffic and additional revenue projections are notably missing.

    They are in the documents I linked to above.

    invariably confined to the actual operation rather than new major capital works, where each area normally looks after its own

    Crossrail is spending a lot of money in Berkshire. For that matter, the hugely expensive 4 Lines Modernisation is a major capital work that stretches beyond Greater London and that TfL is paying for and managing.

  121. Nameless says:

    There is very little likelihood of any changes to the GLA (formerly GLC) aka London Region boundary.
    Perhaps the long term solution is to revisit the 1970 shrinking of the then LTE area to fit within Greater London. Would it not make more sense, for transport purposes, to go back to the original LPTB boundaries or thereabouts. This would of course have to bring in representation of the local authority areas subsumed and consequent funding reallocation.
    Or maybe think big and have one transport authority for all three home regions i.e. London, E and SE.
    – This thought is not exactly crayonism but something similar.

  122. quinlet says:


    As it happens, the developing proposals for Transport for the South East tend towards the one big transport authority you are suggesting, albeit without the inclusion of London. It does, however, really start to look like the tail wagging the dog as the longer distance commuting journeys to London make up only a small fraction of all the travel in both London and elsewhere in the South East. The one big transport authority argument tends to give undue precedence to these type of journeys over the far, far larger share of travel made up of local journeys. I am not sure, either, whether the citizens of Banbury or Clacton would really welcome the fact that all their transport decisions – including timings on local traffic lights or location of bus stops – would, in future, be taken by people sitting in London, or Guildford (or wherever else the TfSE HQ might be).

  123. Taz says:

    @ Mark Townend 19 December 2016 at 22:15 Agreed. See my post above 17 December 2016 at 20:24 for the background to this extravagance.

  124. straphan says:

    The squabbling over boundaries has long been resolved elsewhere in Europe. Germany has plenty of what they call Verkehrsverbuende, or transport unions. These set fare, subsidy and service levels across their territories for all modes of public transport, with the exception of long-distance rail. Their executive bodies are formed of representatives from all local authorities within the Verkehrsverbund, the smaller of which are usually more than happy to pay someone usually more experienced than they are to sort out that cumbersome public transport thingy for them.

    Public transport in Great Britain was slowly heading down this path under Cameron and McLoughlin, with enhanced roles for the former PTEs – now Combined Authorities – in the conurbations outside London; and with a promise of overgroundisation.

    The change at the helm of the DfT sadly appears to have flung a car door in the path of that process…

  125. Graham H says:

    @straphan -n the bad old ays before the post-truth society, the car door incident would have been a resigning matter (may be not if a transport minister wasn’t involved)

  126. Malcolm says:

    Graham: I’m not sure how long ago these bad old days were supposed to be. But at least two prominent politicians have been spotted cycling through red lights (and they didn’t resign, at least not for that reason), and that strikes me as much more blameworthy – being more likely to be deliberate lawbreaking rather than carelessness.

  127. Balthazar says:

    Am I the only one who’s geting confused about what is meant to be literal and what is meant to be a metaphor on this thread?

  128. Ian J says:

    @Malcolm: Surely the more serious lawbreaking involved is in failing to report an accident causing injury to the police within 24 hours?

  129. Malcolm says:

    Ian J: perhaps so. Discussion about this incident was being discouraged recently, as it is entirely off-topic and does not seem to lead to any particularly useful insights. I am sorry that I rose to the bait. It is not yet a banned topic, but could become so, particularly if we cannot (between us) avoid a pantomime-like repetition of “Is he bad?”, “yes he is”, “no he isn’t”, or similar.

  130. Greg Tingey says:

    “Is he bad” is almost irrelevant, actually.
    A much more relevant question, & for any ministerial office, & not just this specific case, would be:
    “Is he (or she) competent?”

    [ In this case & IMHO, a definite: “NO” – but that’s just me … ]

  131. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J 19/12 0007 – pretty much agree with what you’ve said there. I agree that the loss of further rail devolution is a major blow for the Mayor and it’s evident that the move to “teams” is a deliberate move to stop splitting of largeish franchise areas where services of two potential franchises have to share tracks. The Mayor therefore has nothing much to lose as things stand if he does eventually say “no Croxley link” because the cost risk exposure for TfL is unacceptable.

    @ Anonymously 0226 – I’m afraid Mr Grayling has ample opportunity to wreck all future SE rail devolution even if he’s only around for a couple of years. He’s cancelled it for South Eastern. That means a delay of 8-10 years depending on how the franchise is awarded. If the “team” concept is deeply embedded in the cost and risk structure of the new franchise then it will make it very difficult to unravel if someone turned up at the DfT who was amenable to devolution. Mr G can remove the provisions in the new SWT franchise for a “severable” franchise to separate out inner from outer services. That then makes SWT “off limits” for a considerable number of years and it could quite easily be extended or retendered again before the prospect of CR2 looms. Mr G could also take steps to prevent devolution of Southern and Great Northern inners if he wanted to – he could announce an early end to the TSGN franchise (for a whole load of seemingly plausible reasons once we get past the completion of the Thameslink project) and then structure the replacement franchise to prevent devolution. Finally he could require the Mayor and TfL to accept a condition that they will NOT be responsible for appointing the future operator of CR2. If he wants to go on a devolution wrecking mission he has plenty of scope to do so within a relatively short time period. I suspect he is more than aware of these possibilities and others given he is personally opposed to devolution and will therefore want to ensure his personal anti devolution “legacy” lingers on for a decade or so after he departs. Look how long Nick Ridley’s bus deregulation has lasted – 30+ years! You might have expected someone to have overturned that policy by now.

  132. Anonymously says:

    @WW…..Well, although I take your concerns seriously, it seems to me that you have adopted the most pessimistic take on events that one can adopt….are you seriously suggesting that if Zac was Mayor, everything would now be fine and dandy? Or, alternatively, that Grayling is ideologically determined to ensure that control in all these matters remains at the DfT?

    As for the Ridley comparison, that just begs the question……Graham H, is Grayling the New Ridley (leaving aside their shared antipathy towards Europe)?

  133. Taz says:

    It seems the greatest saving suggested is no Cassiobridge station, but that is intended to replace the closing Watford station. What if Watford remained open, peaks only when it is intended to reverse 4 trains an hour there, empty from Croxley. That would save the platform staff at Croxley to ensure these trains are empty. Cassiobridge could then depend on local private funding from businesses that would benefit.

    Other savings would come from not opening until the new signalling can be installed, avoiding resignalling, and awaiting a signalled junction to NR lines, avoiding need for signalled crossover at Vicarage Road. A few more months after all these years will hardly matter.

  134. Ian J says:

    @Anonymously: Grayling is on record* as being opposed to devolution on principle, the principle being that at some time in the future a member of the Labour Party might be Mayor. That was the case when Boris Johnson was Mayor and would remain the case if Zac Goldsmith was Mayor, since he would still be concerned about the Mayor after Goldsmith.

    * Presumably it never occurred to him that notes addressed to one Mayor might be available to that Mayor’s successor**. I think that Cabinet ministers’ documents are not made available to succeeding governments.

    ** This is assuming that the note was leaked by Sadiq Khan. It would be much more fun if it turned out it was leaked by Boris Johnson…

  135. philthetube says:

    Taz. Equal , if not bigger savings could be made by installing legacy signalling and leaving it there for the time being, there are no current plans to go driverless, as against ATO, so why not?

    Having said that, by the time the link should be finished ato will be in use on the circle anyway.

  136. straphan says:

    @WW: To quote one of my favourite metaphors: it is much easier to make an omelette out of an egg than the other way round… Particularly in the age of trade deals with ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) mechanisms.

    @philthetube: Assuming ATO systems are more expensive than conventional signalling in terms of installation and maintenance (are they? anyone know?) then I, too, cannot see a reason why the Croxley Rail Link should not be fitted out with lights on sticks. Regardless of how strong future mayors’ feelings are going to be w.r.t. drivers in cabs, the S-Stock is unlikely to go fully driverless during its lifetime.

  137. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously – I haven’t worked with Grayling, as I did with Ridley, so any judgement is based on what is in the public domain. He has an impressive track record as an ideologue, albeit without the intellectual qualities to back it up. At Transport, several activities are of interest:

    – the guards dispute is a good example of someone trying to put a point across, regardless of the cost. Considered as an investment case (which any pragmatic management would do), the cost of the dispute has long passed any possible payback for the franchisee; so it’s being pursued as an ideological point at the taxpayers’expense. [Pse note that ideological poses are being struck on both sides, only with RMT, it’s the members who have probably now lost more money than they could make up in a decade of work]
    – the emerging stance on Watford and the blowback into further devolution
    – greater use of partnering with NR. It’s unclear what the real agenda is here: a Shavian demarche by the back door? A mere passetemps to suggest activity,when none is actually undertaken? Or a preliminary to something more fundamental?
    – E-W private line – a difficult practical choice for a flagship experiment (lacks volume, many interfaces, lots of 3rd party running etc), so presumably a purely ideological choice -anyway,he won’t be around to reap the harvest
    – various strawmen being run by right wing think tanks (eg this morning’s report that they favour greater competition on IC routes to reduce fares). I wonder who put them up to it? Also watch out for the CMA being encouraged to promote their usual anti-consumer transport agendas…
    – that car door incident- the significance is that there has been not a word of comment from Grayling – no apology, expression of concern, or even acknowledgement that it happened – a nasty piece of work.

    Lord Dawlish writes – I’d have him blackballed from my club.

  138. answer=42 says:

    To pick up on Straphan’s first point, there is a bigger picture to all this. Policy has completely changed without either a change in the facts or in the party in government.

    International investors will not be paying attention to these events. But, come the financing rounds for CR2 or HS1, their minons will be examining political risk closely. Whether or not Grayling is still in post or whether he politically sleeps with the other fishes, this risk will be built into the financing cost, unless there is a clear line drawn.

    The comparison with Ridely can be taken further. When he got out of line on spending, he was slapped down by the PM.

  139. rational plan says:

    Um actually Graham he did get out of the car and help the cyclist up and check to see if he was okay. He did not leave his details. but as it was minor incident and everyone seemed okay, he might not have thought about it. Most people don’t report accidents to the Police as they think exchanging information covers it, when you are still supposed to do so.

    It’s everyone else who is piling in trying to make hay out of it, from cycling groups saying they will fund a private prosecution etc. While motorists say the cyclist was undertaking etc etc.

  140. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 -one could go further and say that the changes in policy haven’t even been announced, leaving observers to deduce what is happening from events and/or smoke and whispers.

  141. Graham H says:

    @rationalplan -I wasn’t actually concerned with the blame game, merely that Grayling is no ordinary motorist and, as those of us who occupy elected office are constantly reminded by Codes of Practice and the like,we have to appear whiter than white… (Yes Minister had a useful sketch on the point).

  142. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Graham H: The “greater partnering with NR”, I read as preparation to chop NR into bits….

  143. Graham H says:

    @SHLR – it’s not clear whether this is the thin end of a McNulty/Shaw wedge or merely a simulacrum of their recommendations intended to suggest change without the actualite. NR certainly see this as the latter case, but then, the Mandy Rice-Davies comment applies.

  144. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Rational Plan,

    Most people don’t report accidents to the Police as they think exchanging information covers it, when you are still supposed to do so

    The law is fairly clear on this. You are under no obligation to report a road traffic collision to the police unless personal injury is involved. Exchanging of information does cover it. If you believe that the other side committed a traffic offence it might be in your interest to call the police but there is no obligation to do so.

    What people may not be aware of is how little injury is enough to legitimately call the police. I am fairly sure it has been ruled that a scratched finger is enough.

    You also have to bear in mind that the reasons for the need to call the police are to protect the needs of injured person and because of the possibility a fairly serious offence has been committed. If the “victim” is happy for them not to be called then I doubt if anyone is too bothered. Also, calling the police is not the same as requiring the police to turn up so what is the point?

    Finally, it is well-established Metropolitan Police policy not to get involved in damage-only collisions which they regard as a civil matter. If they happen to be there the only thing they generally do is verify that the contact details exchanged are genuine.

  145. timbeau says:

    Graham H “the cost of the dispute has long passed any possible payback for the franchisee;”
    “the members …, have probably now lost more money than they could make up in a decade of work”

    Indeed, but the cost of the dispute to date (to both sides) is a sunk cost. In determining whether it is worth prolonging the dispute it is necessary only to compare the future cost against the hoped-for payback.

  146. Malcolm says:

    PoP: slight ambiguity in “how little injury is enough to legitimately call the police”. I think you probably mean “to be legally required to call the police”. I think any citizen may legitimately inform the police of anything at all (so long as it falls short of “wasting police time”, which is another matter entirely).

    In practice, of course, it is as you say, that if neither party wishes the police to be informed, and the injury is not sufficient to get them informed automatically (say by ambulance staff), then the police are left out, and I doubt if any third party (such as a passing busybody) is supposed or likely to interfere.

    Graham may be right, however, when he points out that the minister of transport is not an ordinary citizen, and is perhaps bound by different rules.

  147. 100andthirty says:

    GrahamH…….for mere mortals please will you translate……… “greater use of partnering with NR. It’s unclear what the real agenda is here: a Shavian demarche by the back door? A mere passetemps to suggest activity, when none is actually undertaken? Or a preliminary to something more fundamental?” I think I’ve deduced the 2nd – another Yes Minister sketch, but I am lost as to the meaning Shavian demarche and Google was no help!

  148. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – indeed, but at any point (but especially at the start!), you make a proper risk assessment and cost the exercise. Future costs not yet sunk… Do you detect either party considering the issue just now?

    @130 -sorry;”Shavian” – the adjective from Shaw – first applied,so far as I know, to the playwright GB Shaw.

  149. rational plan says:

    Thanks Pedantic, I’ve had quite a few say differently, but it’s nice to know.

    Hmm I wonder, NR have not covered themselves with glory over electrification and cost control in general. Now that it has been reabsorbed into Government we might well see it cut up into smaller companies (the big four anyone?) Hendy has his work cut out to bring it under control. I’m not sure he will be given the time or real power to do so, either by NR itself or Department of Transport.

    On the other hand seeing the dithering of Ofcom in bringing BT openreach under control then we might have to wait a few years for anything to actually happen.

  150. Nameless says:

    Just one point on the aftermath of the RTC (road traffic collision, which I am assured by my daughter is the current official description – certainly never now called an “accident”). Mr Grayling was not, at the material time, a “motorist”. He was a rear seat passenger in a motor vehicle in the charge of another individual, namely his driver. It is the latter person who is immediately responsible for any legal obligations arising from that collision. Like the judge in one of AP Herbert’s Misleading Cases, I find for “the defendant, much as we detest him.”

  151. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anonymously 0122 – I didn’t mention anything about Mr Goldsmith. From the letter that was leaked it was perfectly clear that Mr Grayling is simply opposed to devolution on the grounds of preventing Labour ever getting their hands on the railway under Mayoral control. He was opposed when Boris was in charge and he’d be equally opposed if Mr Goldsmith had won. That is why I take the view that his deep seated opposition could stretch to taking further preventative steps. It is clear that we are talking a point of principle or ideology rather than an objective assessment of the proposition that was put forward. The DfT yesterday refused to publish their assessment of TfL’s proposals. I wonder why? The only person who can overrule Mr Grayling is the Prime Minister and I doubt she cares tbh. Yes I am taking a pessimistic stance but given Mr Grayling’s pointed remarks about the Mayor and his fares freeze, the Piccadilly Line and other issues it’s clear to me that relations are, how shall I put it, “not good” between City Hall and Horseferry Road. That makes me concerned about the future and how willing either party will be to act sensibly. We have to get the TWAO signed off for the Barking Riverside extension and it will be interesting to see if that happens. It should given the contingent housing development and I doubt Mr G would be so pig headed as to delay tens of thousands of new homes being built. That would be a serious conflict with the general thrust of government policy. I just hope my pessimism is unfounded.

  152. Anonymous** says:

    [Entire comment deleted for being too politically opinionated and in the wrong place. We might have let it stand if you had put it in the correct place (The Last Stand of the Old Guard) and provided a valid email address. PoP]

  153. Anonymously says:

    @WW….Apologies, I had forgotten about the leaked letter. In all honesty, I find the contents of the leaked letter far more damaging and potentially more of a resignation issue than the ‘bike-door-gate’ saga everyone has been obsessing over on this thread (as has already been noted, the cyclist wasn’t significantly injured and didn’t wish for the matter to be taken any further….I think I read somewhere that he didn’t even realise the other party was the SoS for Transport?). I find it puzzling that no one in the media has made more of an issue of his ideologically-driven stance as judged by the leaked letter….thoughts, anyone?

    @Graham H….Hmmmm, that doesn’t sound good, does it? 😮 At least we can hope that Grayling doesn’t leave any lasting damage that cannot be easily undone by a successor (bus deregulation aside, I don’t think Nick Ridley left any other lasting legacy at the DfT?).

    As an aside, who is this ‘Lord Dawlish’ that you keep on referring to? Is he some ennobled alter-ego of yours reflecting a repressed desire for elevation to the House of Lords? 😜 I know I said on another thread that I think you deserve a knighthood for services to public transport, but unfortunately it is not in my power to recommend you for a peerage 😉….

  154. Phil says:

    Re Walthamstow Writer

    Given Zac Goldsmith is a supporter of the same party as Mr Grayling I think a way would have been found round Mr Graylings objections regarding rail devolution.

    Naturally it wouldn’t have been easy or straight forward – but that is the nature of the Mayoral job, Londoners don’t tend to go for authordox politicians (witness Ken Livingstone’s and Boris Johnson’s sucessfull campaigns – both characters who didn’t exactly toe the party line in their careers.

    As for the Barking reach line, I do not foresee any issues – other than the DfT will (as with the Croxley link) will say “here are the powers now get on and build it – but you won’t get a penny more out of us other than what we have previously agreed to contribute. If costs go up the bill is yours to pay and if you need more money then go and rethink your fare freeze”.

    In other words the DfT will do what it has to – but no more and there will be no wiggle room available (which their could have been if we had a Conservative Mayor in City Hall

  155. Anonymously,

    Regarding our dear friend, Lord Dawlish, you were correct about the first bit. See the first paragraph of this comment (and the following one) for a full explanation.

  156. timbeau says:

    Could have been a lot worse – if you’d made that mistake at another station you might now be known as Lord Teesside Airport or Lord British Steel Redcar instead. Or maybe take holy orders as Bishop Auckland.

  157. Graham H says:

    Those are the sorts of title that ex-nationalised industry chairmen would take. As in

    “Lord Finchley tried to mend the electric light – himself etc”

  158. Timbeau says:

    Not so. Rule 95 of the Construction and Use Regulations 1986 makes no distinction between driver and passengers. (See also Highway Code Rule 239)

    Passengers can be, and have been, prosecuted for road traffic offences such as throwing objects out of vehicles, causing an accident by interfering with the controls, or not wearing seat belts.

    In any case, I was told from a very young age you should never attempt to alight from a vehicle without the agreement of the driver.

  159. Malcolm says:

    Graham: Indeed. Come to think, I don’t think Lady Finchley was all that fond of the artisan either.

  160. JohnThorn says:

    Returning to the ‘white elephant’ point….

    The Borders reported a million passengers in the first year. Presumably that is single journeys. A single fare for the whole length is £19.50. So, perhaps, £15 million in fares for a £300million project.
    An ORR report gives Scotrails costs as £500 per train hour. There are about 50 single trips each day taking about an hour for,say, 300 days per year making £7.5million in operating costs. A 40 year payback excluding financing. Maybe not white – but very pale.

  161. Timbeau says:

    @John Thorn

    On purely commercial terms, you are right, but the Scottish Office always said there were wider benefits to the economy of the region and in reducing traffic on the roads.

  162. Nameless says:

    I stand corrected. Having looked this up I would observe that you must mean Reg. 105 rather than 95 but your interpretation stands.
    Anyway, it seems that there is little point pursuing this frayed end here.

  163. Taz says:

    @ philthetube 21 December 2016 at 07:19 Met line signalling is all life expired and being replaced by more effective & efficient system over the next few years. If the new branch retains legacy signalling it will have cost implications for maintenance & training. Will also require drivers to take trains into WJ dead-end platforms manually despite little practical experience to maintain their skills. Better to require the new branch to bear the costs of the new signalling system, and to delay opening until that is available rather than first installing a legacy system.

  164. Ronnie MB says:

    Graham H could also have caused confusion if he had taken the designation Stratford because that title was also taken by the (late) former Tony Banks. Would one of you have been Lord Stratford Regional and the other Lord Stratford International???

  165. Well as Tony Banks was the person who pushed so hard for a station at Stratford International (but obviously not smart enough to push to ensure that trains actually stopped at it) he should have been lumbered with the title Lord Stratford International.

  166. answer=42 says:

    I have a problem with the station name ‘Stratford Regional’ mostly because the station is actually called ‘Stratford’. Could cause some confusion. A qualifier is definitely required. And ‘regional’ is too boring.

    Why not take a leaf out of Lille’s book, where they have ‘Lille Europe’ and ‘Lille Flandres’. Of course, international trains actually stop at Lille Europe, so the parallel is not exact.

    In Stratford, you could have ‘Stratford International’ and ‘Stratford Anglia.’ And hang Harry Potter’s flying car in the entrance.

  167. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Stratford Olympic?

  168. Nameless says:

    Channel Sea Bridge?

  169. Verulamius says:

    Surely the problematic name is Stratford International as no international trains stop there?

    Why don’t we call them Stratford Victoria and Stratford Elizabeth?

  170. ngh says:

    re SH(LR),

    “Stratford Olympic?”
    That would probably fall foul of the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995

  171. Si says:


    So the Elizabeth line runs from Stratford Victoria? Excellent idea confusing tourists so that they go to the wrong station to help with the crowding! 😉

    And can we get the crayons out and extend the Victoria line to Stratford Elizabeth (via Bakers Arms and Leyton) just to make it more confusing?

  172. Graham H says:

    @Si/Verulamius – come on ! We can be more imaginative, surely? (One thinks of all the bizarre station suffixes over time – favourite, Biarritz Negresse* – tho’ Hull Paragon always amuses).

  173. Slugabed says:

    Graham H
    Oldham Mumps a strong contender….
    Best stop now as I hear the snippers approaching.

  174. Malcolm says:

    Only about 60% of “International” stations in the UK have any international trains stopping at all, and only about 40% have a worthwhile international service.

  175. Alan Griffiths says:

    Pedantic of Purley 22 December 2016 at 11:14

    “Tony Banks ………. should have been lumbered with the title Lord Stratford International.”

    He picked the title quite carefully. Once he learned there had never been a Lord Stratford, so he called himself Lord Stratford, of Stratford in the London Borough of Newham.

    Sally Banks is still on the Board of the Theatre Royal, so calling her “Lady Stratford” is quite appropriate. No longer feeds our cats when we are away.

  176. THC says:

    As if 2016 couldn’t get any more pants, I go away for a week and come back to find that the wheels might have come off my favourite railway project. I knew it was a bad idea. Forgive my frivolity and pre-Christmas cheer (!) therefore and please indulge me one request of Santa, the opening of Cassiobridge station in time for Christmas 2020.

    Merry Christmas to one and all, perhaps with the exception of Ebenezer Grayling.


  177. Anonymously says:

    @Malcolm….Plus there’s Harwich International (formerly Parkeston Quay) for the ferry terminal and Birmingham International for the airport. No international trains can be caught from those!*

    I guess since Westfield is an Australian company, that’s about as international as you’re going to get if you use Stratford International (or should that be ‘Stratford Westfield’? 😉).

    *Unless you want to be pedantic and include connecting Harwich ferry trains as ‘boat trains’.

  178. Balthazar says:

    Re: GH – there’s something about the City of Kingston-upon-Hull, as it also has a diesel rolling stock depot called Botanic Gardens…

  179. Si says:

    Birmingham International has direct trains to Wales and Scotland, though your mileage may vary as to whether they are international destinations. 😉

  180. asl says:

    Alas, yet another example of this country taking so long to get started on a rail improvement project that the costs keep going up while nothing actually happens. If you just got on with it and built it the costs wouldn’t have the chance to increase, or at least not by as much. The trick is start with the funding you have, and then stop when it runs out, and usually at that point Mastermind logic comes into play “I’ve started so I’ll finish” and then you actually get something done.

  181. Anonymous says:

    When I worked on Crossrail (Mk1) in the mid-1990s, the projected cost was a snip at some £3 billion!

    I don’t recall if this was just for the central London tunnel infrastructure works (TfL ownership) or the whole scheme that included the associated NR route upgrades to Reading / Aylesbury (with overhead electrification) and Shenfield and whether the trains were included.

    It would be very interesting to understand in detail how the cost has managed to increase to £14.8billion (2010 funding envelope), a five fold increase in the 16 years between 1994 and 2015.

  182. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous – but the Mk1 CR had a much smaller scope of works than its successor – no Abbey Wood branch for a start, fewer stations in tunnels therefore, and savings on replacing some of the A stock. We’ve also had something like an annual increase in construction costs of about 5% -over the 20 years since CR Mk 1 was alive and well; that’s a doubling in the 1992 costs. It’s difficult to guess now what the comparative costs on a like for like and common price base would be – something north of £10 -12 bn at today’s prices most likely. The rest of the difference between the two versions is probably down to (a) scope creep, and (b) those “improvements” in technical standards… Not quite so horrible as the Watford extension.

  183. Ian J says:

    @Anonymous: When I worked on Crossrail (Mk1) in the mid-1990s, the projected cost was a snip at some £3 billion

    Then again at about the same time the Jubilee Line Extension was meant to cost about £2.1 billion and ended up costing £3.5 billion. The current funding estimate includes the substantial optimism bias that the Treasury introduced in the light of the Jubilee Line and other experience.

  184. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – It may very well include that bias but TfL were very non commital about the Croxley Link when they were explaining the new budget to Assembly Members last week. We got an oscar winning piece of obfuscation from the Commissioner which said precisely nothing new nor set any deadlines for a decision or anything else anyone could be held accountable for. What it did say to me was that the numbers have clearly gone sideways in a big way (for whatever reason) and there are some very pained discussions going on somewhere. The possible use of the Growth Fund monies was mentioned which struck me as odd given they’re already being used and no one asked the obvious question of “do you mean the money already allocated or the use of *more* money from the fund?”.

  185. Ian J says:

    @WW: Sorry, I meant the £14.8 billion Crossrail funding envelope included the optimism bias – and just as well given the final cost will be close to that. If a “start building it and the money will follow” approach had been taken for Crossrail on the basis of an excessively optimistic initial forecast, then right now TfL and the government would be in a real mess and having to make big cuts to project scope and/or services to keep Crossrail going (didn’t the Jubilee Line overrun cause cuts at LU in the mid-90s? And the Great Western electrification overrun is causing similar issues for Network Rail right now, with projects sliding right by 5 years or more, or being cancelled outright).

    Whether Herts County Council’s original costing or TfL’s revised costing of the Croxley Rail Link included enough contingency/optimism bias is unclear. If the Commissioner is being evasive in public that at least means that there may be discussions going on in private so it’s not quite dead yet. One extra piece of clever wording in the DfT statement quoted above is that “The Department will not be providing any additional funding for the scheme” is not quite the same as “the government will not be providing any additional funding”.

  186. Snowy says:

    @ Ian J:

    is not quite the same as “the government will not be providing any additional funding”

    Indeed, proving the mastery of this written response. Could use of the New Stations Fund 2 be one such potential area for further funding?

    It would be interesting to look back at previously completed transport projects & calculate quite how many came in ‘on budget’ i.e. including the treasury mandated optimum bias rather than without. I can think of a number of individual promoter schemes who seem to think the bias is only there to inflate the cost of their project rather than reflect true costs.

  187. Ian J says:

    @Snowy: Could use of the New Stations Fund 2 be one such potential area for further funding?

    Or TfL could seek funding from the New Stations Fund 2 to fund the new stations that are currently funded by the Growth Fund, freeing up money from that fund for Croxley? There are all kinds of ways it could be fudged if the will is there on both sides. After all, DfT said “the Department will not be providing any additional funding for the scheme“, not “the Department will not be providing any additional funding full stop”.

  188. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – are TfL able to apply for New Stations Fund monies for an extension to the *Underground*? I didn’t think they were (happy to be corrected as ever). I thought it was solely for National Rail network stations. One factor that has not been revealed is the conclusion of TfL’s work about the potential viability for an Aylesbury – Watford Junction NR service run by Chiltern. This was a specific obligation in an earlier letter from the DfT. I guess if anyone is searching for “wriggle room” this is another potential source of “contribution” – provided the conclusion about a potential service was positive.

  189. Melvyn says:

    Given the recent decision of Chris Grayling on not transferring more main lines to London Mayor and TFL then one option given London has a new Mayor is he could argue as extension is outside the GLA then additional funding should come from County or local councils in similar way as buses are sometimes funded outside London.

    Alternatively, a proposal to increase frequency of the Watford Junction DC service and close the Watford branch of Metropolitan Line which has no intermediate stations and use trains released to increase frequency on the other branches.

    While this project is about diverting Metropolitan Line to Watford Junction I have read that this scheme opens up the possibility of a local service between Watford Junction and Amersham so given her experience gained opposing HS2 perhaps local MP Cheryl Gillian could have more success with this project?

  190. Mark Townend says:

    I wonder if there could be some sleight of hand employed to define the entire extension beyond the new Croxley junction part of Network Rail, handily placing the two new stations within their territory and thus (possibly?) eligible for ‘New Stations Fund’ money. Technically it’s no problem as the TfL trains have to cross a TfL/NR boundary at some point and both sides have to be compatible with the rolling stock. Network Rail might also be better placed to manage the engineering of the ‘interim’ new signalling on the branch at reasonable cost as an adjunct to their own necessary track and signalling effort for the High Street – Watford Junction segment. The new Croxley junction, together with whatever remains of the existing Watford branch would remain TfL infrastructure in this scenario.

  191. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mark Townend – why would NR wish to take on a poisoned chalice where risks are still problematic and costs uncertain? Is it also not the case that local authorities make applications for “New Stations Fund”? NR has no role in seeking that funding and I don’t believe Watford Borough Council are seeking any such funding. I think we have to be careful in pondering “sleight of hand” that would actually blow massive holes in establised funding programmes. The people who are “on the hook” are TfL and City Hall and I don’t see anyone else coming along on a rescue mission. Given the latest words being uttered by the SoS for Transport in the Commons about the Mayor (“I do not take the Mayor’s promises at face value, I am afraid.”) I am sceptical we will see much progress if more money can’t be found / risks reduced / (deliverable) efficiencies achieved.

  192. Walthamstow Writer says:

    The written answers to these Mayor’s Questions should be fun to read (assuming they actually get an answer!)

    Metropolitan line extension (1)
    Question No: 2017/0013
    Caroline Pidgeon
    Why was the extension of the Metropolitan line to Watford not included in the TfL December 2016 Business Plan?

    Metropolitan line extension (2)
    Question No: 2017/0014
    Caroline Pidgeon
    Has funding been given for the Metropolitan line extension to Watford?

    Metropolitan line extension (3)
    Question No: 2017/0015
    Caroline Pidgeon
    Is 2020 still the provisional opening date for the Metropolitan line extension?

    Seems Mrs Pidgeon might read a couple of London oriented blogs. 😛

  193. Jim elson says:

    Or maybe some us us here have forwarded the Croxley posts to her!

  194. Greg Tingey says:

    Conflicting information
    Because also: “Grayling has assured the extension is a contractual obligation.”

    Make of that what you will

  195. Malcolm says:

    The report to which Greg links is largely full of conjecture and hearsay reports. Possibly because that is all that is available.

  196. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – I agree. Clearly a tight lid is being kept on whatever review is underway and there is also an agreed “public line”. None of this is a surprise given the sensitivities and likely difficult politics of whatever is decided upon. While I can understand local politicians in Watford wishing to be seen to be “in control” or “in touch” with events they clearly aren’t because responsibility for the project sits with TfL. The next TfL Board is in early Feb so we may not need to wait very long for something to emerge but I don’t expect we’ll get a lot of detail.

  197. Verulamius says:

    The Hertfordshire Local Transport Board meeting on 19 January had an update on progress. Page 14 of the attached document refers:

    7 Metropolitan Line Extension

    7.1 It was reported to the LTB in October 2016 that the LU process to obtain TfL Board approval for a Stage 2 (construction) contract had been delayed. A revised procurement strategy, which would enable LU to seek alternate contractor(s) through existing Framework Contracts for delivery of the project, has now been approved

    7.2 Updates from the LU Sponsor and Project Manager have set out that the detailed design work for the civils and structures sections of the project will reach a “fully LU compliant” stage by March 2017, which will provide the trigger for a procurement process and subsequent award of a construction contract.

    7.3 The detailed procurement strategy for the main works contracts is subject to appropriate TfL oversight and approval processes before those construction contract(s) can be awarded. LU do not therefore have a confirmed date for the start of the main works on site, although they still aiming for delivery into service of the Metropolitan Line Extension in late 2020.

    7.4 In December 2016 the Mayor of London published a Transport Strategy and Business Plan for London. Whilst the MLX project is not explicitly mentioned within these documents, LU have confirmed that the Business Plan contains a Growth Fund element, specifically targeted for transport projects which will unlock growth and regeneration. It is understood that the list of projects covered by that fund is still being reviewed but could include MLX and that LU will be seeking to apply to this Fund to secure the funding they require as the LU contribution to the funding package.

    7.5 The HCC-led local consortium, including HCC, Herts LEP and Watford Council, are, in line with the Funding Agreement between HCC and TfL, committed to continue to make contributions to the project over the period 2015/16 – 2020/21 in line with the funding profile as set out in schedule 2 of the HCC/TfL Funding Agreement (tabulated below).

    7.6 £20.5m was been passed to TfL in 2016/17, and two payments of £19.15m each are scheduled for payment on 1st April and 1st October 2017. The Funding Agreement has provision of a renegotiation of the funding profile should the delivery programme for the scheme be significantly delayed

  198. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Verulamius – thanks for sharing that. Sort of confirms my suspicion about the detailed design not being pinned down. I hadn’t twigged about the use of LU framework contractors but that sort of makes sense. The one bit that seems peculiar is the growth fund. MXL already had funding from the growth fund. The way I read those notes is that the identified £16m contribution has been “deselected” and that projects are having to bid again for funding that had previously been earmarked.

    That’s not only a worry here but potentially on other projects like STAR. Unfortunately the City Hall governance structure has been changed since May and the meeting that previously tracked the funding and progress of STAR has been cancelled. There is no obvious replacement and certainly no detailed discussion of what’s going on. Also explains the lack of progress on rebuilding T Hale station – unless things have changed in the last fortnight (not been there recently) – as that’s fully funded from the Growth Fund (see table in above article). Hmmmm.

  199. Alan Griffiths says:

    Work is clearly under way between Tottenham Hale and Lea Bridge on the east side of the present tracks.
    What that work is and how it relates to STAR is less obvious.

  200. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alan G – ta, been a little while since I was last down there by train. Some inspections and initial clearance had been done but not much else of substance. I’d have expected to see substantive digging by now to get the formation, drainage etc started.

  201. Briantist says:

    @Alan Griffiths

    “What that work is and how it relates to STAR is less obvious.”

    There are loads of signs up from Lea Bridge to north of Tottenham Hale. They say “STAR” on all the Zone signs…

  202. Alan Griffiths says:

    Briantist @ 28 January 2017 at 12:34

    I saw signs.

    I think you’ve managed to see more detail than is actually there.

    [The picture to which Briantist links definitely has the word “STAR” visible. What exactly that implies may be open to discussion, but implications of faulty vision or over-active imagination are not acceptable here. Malcolm]

  203. Briantist says:

    @Alan Griffiths

    There’s a lot going on between Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale stations!

    The photo shows one of the big signs: it has “WAML STAR ZONE 02” which I’m assured means “West Anglia Main Line Stratford-Angel Road Zone 2”.

  204. Stationless (no longer) says:

    I go past Tottenham Hale fairly reguarly and the earthworks there seem to have stalled. At the same time, the work started on the Meridian Water development last week.

  205. Alan Griffiths says:

    Briantist @ 29 January 2017 at 12:48

    Just had another look at the photo you linked to.

    Now managed to see those words on the left hand side. But only after I expanded the picture.

    I was wrong. You were right. I should apologise.

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