The leaders of Southwark and Lewisham councils have accused the Government of “game-playing” with Transport for London’s finances. 

The statement comes after it emerged that TfL did not prioritise the Bakerloo line extension when asking for central Government funding this week. 

TfL is proposing to extend the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle in Southwark to Lewisham via Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate. 

The plans have strong support from both councils. 

But in a submission for funding in the Government’s upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday (September 30), TfL did not include the Bakerloo line extension in its list of priorities, effectively postponing the huge project.   

TfL said it was “being realistic about what is affordable over the next decade”.   

The document, Investment to get London and the UK moving again, was released as a supplementary document to a TfL board meeting and instead prioritised projects such as extending the DLR to Thamesmead and upgrading Camden Town Station and the Northern line.  

To keep TfL going over the next 18 months, the Mayor of London has requested £5.7 billion from the Government. 

“Very large projects from the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, particularly Crossrail 2 and Bakerloo line extension, are still relevant and aligned to the Department for Transport’s decarbonisation plan.   

“However, given current affordability constraints, our immediate priority for these is safeguarding, although they are still likely to be needed in the future to support long-term growth and modal shift in London,” according to the document.   

A TfL spokesperson told the local democracy service that Covid-19 has had a “huge impact” on its finances, but the extension was “not on hold”. 

“We will be reviewing our investment programme as part of this work and it is crucial for London’s recovery that we can maintain our existing assets and continue to operate frequent, reliable services,” he said.  

The spokesperson added that, regarding the Bakerloo Line extension, TfL’s “immediate priority is safeguarding the route from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham” to “protect the route from future development”. 

It is disappointing that government game-playing with TfL’s finances means that they are unable to request funding for their largest projects – including the Bakerloo line extension – at this time.

In a joint statement the leaders of Southwark and Lewisham councils said they were disappointed with the financial “game-playing” from the Government. 

Southwark leader Councillor Kieron Williams and mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan said: “It is disappointing that government game-playing with TfL’s finances means that they are unable to request funding for their largest projects – including the Bakerloo line extension – at this time.  

“This does not, however, deflect either from the overwhelming case for extending the Bakerloo line along Old Kent Road to Lewisham and Hayes nor the progress on the immediate work to move the project forward, which continues apace. 

 “Over the last few years, we have worked closely with TfL to bring this extension forward and they have the full support of both Lewisham and Southwark councils in pushing ahead with their immediate plans for the scheme.  

“These include safeguarding the station sites and route, developing the overall design, and drawing up a business plan for future government funding; all long-anticipated steps in the process towards delivery.  

“We welcome TfL’s reassurance that this work is an ongoing priority for them.” 

They said they “remain fully committed to the Bakerloo line extension” and will do “everything in their power […] to deliver what will be an essential piece of infrastructure for London’s recovery from Covid-19”.  

“It is vital that government works with TfL to agree a longer-term funding package so that the thousands of new homes and jobs which the project is set to bring are not put at risk,” they said.  

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “The Government is engaging with Transport for London and the Mayor on the impacts of Covid-19 on TfL’s finances. These discussions are ongoing and will ensure London has a safe, reliable network while delivering a fair deal to taxpayers.

“The Department is currently working with TfL to understand the case for the proposed Bakerloo line extension, including how it would interact with other significant transport infrastructure investment planned for London.”