Northern line extension “built for one purpose only – private profit”

Alex Hern shows that the proposed Northern Line extension has always been condemned as "a cut-price stand-alone extension, built for one purpose only - private profit."

One of the smaller measures green-lit by the chancellor’s autumn statement is a two station extension of the Northern line in south London.

This development, which is likely to cost £350 million – deep-level tube lines don’t come cheap – has been condemned as a sop to private developers since it was first seriously proposed in May this year.

As prominent London blogger Diamond Geezer wrote back then:

The first stop on the new Northern line extension would be Nine Elms. This would serve the existing community, saving them a half-mile walk to Stockwell or Vauxhall, as well as serving the new US Embassy and a host of housing developments planned nearby. And the second (and final) stop would be Battersea.

Not the heart of Battersea where most people currently live, but the outskirts close to the famous derelict power station. Again the reason is regeneration, with plans afoot to turn Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s electric cathedral into a massive complex of shops, offices, homes, hotels and “public realm”.

It’ll be both fantastic and ghastly, rescuing classic architecture by utterly commercialising it. And, of course, the whole thing’s only feasible if there’s a tube station next door. […]

These days, it seems, no new London transport development is possible without private money. […]

Why else do you think there’s that massive right-angled turn in the railway at Kennington? In any socially-motivated world the Northern line extension would continue straight on into poor old Camberwell, which is the biggest railway black hole in central London.

Instead the power station project acts like a giant financial magnet, tugging the tunnels away to where business requires it, not where communities might best be regenerated.

Notice how the proposed Northern line extension doesn’t link up with anything.

It zips straight across the Victoria line without any interchange being constructed (because a stop at Vauxhall would apparently overwhelm the existing station).

It stops really close to Battersea Park and Queenstown Road stations, but makes no attempt to join up with either (because connectivity to shops trumps connectivity to railways).

And it terminates well short of Clapham Junction, which would be an obvious next stop (because that’s where the money runs out).

In the 1960s the Victoria line was deliberately built to link up with everything it passed. In the 2010s we dare not link to anything in case passenger numbers create too much congestion.

This is a cut-price stand-alone extension, built for one purpose only – private profit.

So there you have it. An ill-thought out pork project which seems designed to get as little bang for it’s buck as possible. As necessary as stimulus is, it would be nice if it was done with a bit of competency.

See also:

How we sold off the right to protest to the one per centAlex Hern, November 3rd 2011

Boris fiddles as London prepares for transport chaosAlex Hern, October 19th 2011

Tory fare rises are an indirect tax on jobs in LondonClive Efford MP, January 6th 2011

Livingstone eats into Johnson’s lead in latest pollLiam R Thompson, October 18th 2010

Tory high-speed rail attack backfiresShamik Das, March 12th 2010

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24 Responses to “Northern line extension “built for one purpose only – private profit””

  1. Political Planet

    Northern line extension “built for one purpose only – private profit”: Alex Hern shows that the proposed Norther… http://t.co/k6U73TA1

  2. Cochis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" http://t.co/RPdA0oVR

  3. James Temperton

    Ah, so the Autumn Statement gave the green-light for the Northern Line extension through Nine Elms and onto Battersea: http://t.co/H0UNldA5

  4. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" http://t.co/CIFwVUV5

  5. Neil McLintock

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" http://t.co/CIFwVUV5

  6. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit", writes @alexhern: http://t.co/NCdqSkIt #as11

  7. Lambeth Green Party

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit", writes @alexhern: http://t.co/A3CheYXU #as11

  8. Jason_Cobb

    RT @Lambethgp: RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit": http://t.co/a6edvENx #as11

  9. JAMSRIDE WINNING

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit", writes @alexhern: http://t.co/NCdqSkIt #as11

  10. Paul D

    Entirely correct.

    The developers claim that the extension is ‘privately financed’. However the bulk of the funding will come from two public sources: tax incremental financing, and the re-appropriation of the Crossrail levy raised from South London.

    The cost is borne by the public sector, and the profit is captured by developers able to charge higher prices and rents for their river-view flats because they come with a tube station attached.

    Furthermore, the developers are intending to build properties with a sub-legal level of green and public spaces included, and they are not obliged to build the new primary schools or health centres that will need to be built around their new development to serve the population that moves in.

    The developers also claim 25,000 new jobs created, which is such lunacy fantasy land economics that it barely needs knocking down.

    Redevelopment of Battersea is sorely needed. But not when based on wilful, govt-supported, mis-information and voodoo economics. An extension to Camberwell and Herne Hill may bring greater redevelopment benefits, but we will never know because the question has never been asked.

  11. Nick Leaton

    Cross rail levy – charging the people who don’t use cross rail so others can have cheap tickets.

    Given the interest payments would be 3 million a day, and its unlikely to go above 200,000 passengers a day, the cost needs to be around the 16-18 quid mark. No one in their right mind is going to pay that, or be able to afford to pay it.

    So they are going to get a subsidy. People who don’t benefit get to foot the bill for those that do.

    Just another form of corporate cronyism. Just the banks getting bailed out, the rich for their PV cells charging the poor for expensive ‘green’ power.

    It’s clear they are doing it wrong.

    When the built the original tube tunnels, (not cut and shut), they did it by hand, at up to 20 meters a day. 500 meters a month. Start at either end and the middle, and you could get a long way in a year, with a small number of people. However, it doesn’t suit big spending government being conned because they are stupid.

    So what could you get for 16 bn? (Olympic estimate – bound to rise once on the hook) 150 million for the DLR extension. That means given a bit of efficiency, 120 DLR extensions, across London.

    Just shows the madness of politicians.

  12. NorthernLine Protest

    RT @leftfootfwd: Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit"; http://t.co/cybzJKQA

  13. Boris's electric vehicle boasts are an inverted pyramid of piffle | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Northern line extension “built for one purpose only – private profit” – Alex Hern, November 29th […]

  14. Biggs: ‘Boris Tunnel’ is four years late and “doesn’t appear to have any funding” | Left Foot Forward

    […] As with any development that aims to ease traffic and make Londoners’ lives better, the crossing is of course to be welcomed – but the delay is troubling (with the annoucement conveniently being made a few months before the election), while the questions over funding haven’t fully been answered; let’s hope it doesn’t unravel in the same manner as George Osborne’s Autumn Statement Northern Line extension announcement. […]

  15. Feral_britain

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  16. Simon P. Hughes

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  17. Sam Connacher

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  18. Janet Graham

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  19. Lydia N Livingston

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  20. Star Hart

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  21. keith ferguson

    Northern line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" | Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/WhP2ueeQ

  22. Bruce Ford

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  23. Suzanne O'Connell

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

  24. Panda

    The Northern Line extension "built for one purpose only – private profit" is now expected to cost £900m, up from £350: http://t.co/GR2fCMe1

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