London Orbital Rail Network

Part of Mi6 – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 19th July 2006.

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Photo of Martin Linton Martin Linton PPS (Rt Hon Lord Falconer of Thoroton, Secretary of State), Department for Constitutional Affairs 2:30 pm, 19th July 2006

As the Government were committed to building the East London line in their manifesto and as it follows the logic of all their transport policies, I remain completely confident that they will enable phase 2 to go ahead so that trains eventually run from Clapham Junction to Highbury. I accept that, to create an orbital interchange in that part of London, it would make huge railway sense for Finsbury Park to be added to the system. It is a natural hub, whereas other stations in the area are not.

The cost is great; greater than anticipated. Phase 1 of the East London line will cost close on £1 billion. Originally it was a national scheme, but it is now a London scheme; London is borrowing the money to carry it out. The Treasury, through the Department for Transport, funds the Mayor of London to enable the money to be paid back.

By comparison, phase 2 is costed at only about £250 million to £275 million. I regret to inform my hon. Friends the Members for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) and for Hackney, South and Shoreditch that, of that £275 million, £200 million is the cost of extending the line by just two stations, up to Highbury and Islington. For technical reasons that I do not fully understand, that is the expensive part of the project. None the less, it is very important that it should go ahead. It might be worth pursuing why that cost is so disproportionate.

The southern extension to Clapham Junction, my main concern, is a relatively cheap £75 million, most of which is to build the new station at Surrey Canal road in the constituency of my hon. Friend Joan Ruddock. Once that has been built, we shall campaign for a station at Brixton. The idea of having a line in south London that goes through but does not stop at Brixton seems extraordinary. The Mayor has commissioned a business case for a station at Brixton, although that would involve huge technical difficulties. I shall pursue the same strategy and get a business case for a station in north Battersea.