By Paul Bentley
Fears are mounting this week that the multi-million pound planned extension of the East London Line is to be scrapped.
Local councils are concerned after being kept in the dark about the plans to expand the line west from Surrey Quays west to Clapham Junction.
Work has already begun to extend the East London Line north to Dalston Junction and south to New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon by June 2011. But local councillors are worried that proposals to further develop the line will be abandoned by Boris Johnson.
A spokesperson for Southwark council said: “The Mayor of London has said he would make an announcement about the East London Line Phase Two plans but we’ve been waiting for months. We’re all a bit out of the loop.”
Robert Nichols, Senior Transport Planner for Bromley council, added: “It has gone from quite positive to very quiet very quickly, which could mean it precedes a negative.”
A council officer for Lewisham, who asked to remain anonymous, said the plans were almost certainly being shelved because of overspending by Boris Johnson: “The Mayor has already committed to initial improvements to the East London Line and to massive redevelopments to Thameslink and Crossrail.”
“£17 billion pounds has been pledged to Thameslink alone. Regarding the East London line’s Phase Two plans, all bets must be off.” – A Lewisham council source
The planned extension would be expected to provide an economic boost to South Bermondsey, Peckham and Denmark Hill; all areas that might feature on the new East London Line but are not currently serviced by the Tube.
A report into the London City extension which connected North Greenwich to the DLR in 2005 revealed that almost 90% of local residents believe it has attracted new people to the area and improved access to jobs, shopping and central London.
A u-turn on East London Line extension plans would be of particular disappointment to MIllwall Football Club.
A Millwall spokesperson, said: “A tube connection would make it so much easier for fans to commute to the area. If the East London Line extension didn’t go forward it would be a disappointment, but we very much believe that it will.”
A spokesperson for Transport for London admitted that they were “still looking for funding” but claimed it was “never a done deal in the first place.”
He said: “There is no date set for an announcement by the Mayor of London and I have heard nothing to suggest that there is any forthcoming announcement. There is a lot of desire for the extension to East London Line and we hope to secure funding for it soon.”