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TfL forced to rethink Metropolitan line extension over cost fears

Transport for London is cutting costs from the planned Metropolitan line extension before it seeks a contractor for the scheme after supply chain pressures forced a rethink of its original procurement plan.

In 2013 Taylor Woodrow beat Carillion and Bam Nuttall to the contract to design and carry out enabling works for the project that would see the Metropolitan line extended north-west of central London to Watford Junction.

Taylor Woodrow was then expected to be selected for the project’s main works, which would see the diversion of the route through two new stations and the closure of Watford station, where the line currently terminates.

However, it has now emerged that TfL is looking into an alternative procurement plan amid concerns over value for money on the project.

Taylor Woodrow begun its enabling works in 2014 and is set to finish this package by spring 2018.

But concerns are growing over the escalating costs of the overall project, which was initially expected to come in at £118m.

TfL took over the scheme from Hertfordshire Council in October 2015 and agreed a deal with the council and the Department for Transport over funding for the by-then £280m project.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said in parliament before Christmas that the costs of the scheme were currently higher than even this extended budget as a result of prices received from the supply chain.

He added that TfL was considering how best to deal with this cost increase, and was looking into how to make the project more affordable.

Construction News has learned that the organisation, which is under pressure to cut costs, is carrying out value-engineering work to see how best to bring down the cost of the project.

TfL confirmed that it was re-evaluating the affordability of the project and the benefits the extension of the line would deliver.

TfL stands to foot the bill for any budget overruns after Mr Jones revealed last month that the DfT would provide no extra funding above the £109.8m it had agreed to contribute in October 2015.

When plans for the project, then known as the Croxley Rail Link, were first approved in 2011, the project was expected to be completed in 2016.

In 2015, former chancellor George Osborne said that Metropolitan extension would have trains running on it by 2018.

It is understood that construction of the line and stations could take up to four years.

TfL said this week that it was still aiming for the line to be finished by 2020.

London Underground director of strategy and service development David Hughes said: “Since taking over the Metropolitan line extension in November 2015, we have undertaken substantial design development and enabling work, which is due to complete in spring next year.

“We continue to work with Hertfordshire County Council and the DfT to ensure the affordability of the project. There’s a growth fund in the [TfL] business plan for transport projects which will unlock growth and regeneration.

“The list of projects covered by the fund is still being reviewed but could include the Metropolitan line extension.”

Construction News has contacted Taylor Woodrow for comment.

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