It’s a project which has been on then off on a pretty regular basis over the years but the London Tramlink extension to Sutton is once again on the “no” pile after Transport for London confirmed in their revised budget that the project was “paused”. The revised budget was part of the funding agreement with the government earlier this year and sees TfL reassigning their priorities with other projects also being paused whilst others will be reliant on other funding if they are to take place.
In the budget document it states that the Sutton Tramlink’s “development work paused as transport case is poor and there remains a significant funding gap”. Other projects which have been “paused” include work at Croydon Fiveways, King’s Cross gyratory, Bow Vision, Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf and on the Underground South Kensington capacity upgrade and solar roof installation. Whilst the official term is “paused” it will presumably take a major change of fortunes for these projects to be put back into the capital plan especially as there are other major projects which are still planned which don;t have full funding in place either and will be ahead in the queue.
In response to the news Sutton Council were naturally disappointed. Cllr Jayne McCoy, Chair of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee, said: “Successive Tory and Labour mayors have made promises but failed to deliver the tram extension in Sutton. The tram would have unlocked access to jobs, housing and attracted new business and investment into the borough. Sutton has received less investment than any other borough in London despite having the worst public transport links. Lib-Dem run Sutton council is developing ambitious major projects like the London Cancer Hub that is set to generate billions for the UK economy which the tram would have accelerated. Both the Tories and Labour should hang their heads in shame at this chronic underinvestment.”
Its not a complete wipeout for trams as £16 million has been allocated for the 2020/21 period which will cover all safety critical works across the Tramlink network including major track renewal.
Elsewhere in the budget the tram rolling stock replacement project is still ongoing but would be dependent on additional funding being found. As this is considered a critical asset replacement in the Long Term Capital Plan, presumably the hope is that the funding will be found as there will be a time in the not too distant future that the replacement of the original Bombardier trams is required.
For the Docklands Light Railway £22 million has been allocated in the 2020/21 period with this being used for the renewal of signalling and trackwork across the network including the repair and replacement of deteriorating bogie frames on the fleet of trains.
The DLR Royal Docks extension comes under the “Schemes currently contingent on additional funding” category but the line to Thamesmead comes out better as it under “Major Projects” although there is no guarantee everything in this category will go-ahead. TfL are currently working with the developers on the Thamesmead line on taking forward a feasibility study, including funding options for the scheme. It would cost £0.8 billion for this project.