I wish I could remember who I was talking to about ELLX Phase 2 (executive summary: a fully cross-party-supported extension of the East London Line to Clapham Junction, and a key test of Boris’s competence and ability to make deals which so far he’s failing on) on Saturday, but it was probably Val Shawcross, who is indeed a reader, as we suspected.  Hello, nice to meet you.

Still, there are some proper journalists examining the issue, and the latest is that both sides (DfT and TfL) have abandoned the pretence that they’re just thrashing out terms and started on the bitchiness.  I give you this as an example:

SOUTH London MPs have attacked Boris Johnson for seeking to squeeze as much money as he can from the Government before giving the go-ahead to building a new Tube line linking Clapham Junction to east London.

…four MPs – Battersea’s Martin Linton, Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham), Joan Ruddock from Lewisham and Deptford and Tessa Jowell (Dulwich and West Norwood), each representing constituencies on the proposed line – have asked Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon to pressure the mayor to get a move on.

Now, those MPs are Labour, Labour, Labour and Labour, and two are ministers, so this is hardly a politically ambivalent move.  Tessa Jowell jabs one in:

She added original plans to build a station at Surrey Canal Road had been scrapped after TfL decided it would be too costly – a claim TfL could not confirm.

Boris’s crew coming back swinging here:

A spokesman from the London Mayor’s office admitted that Mr Johnson had asked the funding gap to be split 50:50 between the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London.

He said: “However, the DfT has imposed a number of conditions which will increase the cost of the scheme and therefore the size of the funding gap

In other words ‘don’t blame us’.  Of course, the scheme benefits both parties, so in a sane world would have been agreed long ago.  In an insane credit crunch world where shovel-ready infrastructure projects are extremely rare, it’s bonkers that it’s taken since May to get a piddling £15m sorted.  Is Boris playing hardball for the sake of London?  His own ego?  His image in the Conservative Party?  Are the DfT deliberately sabotaging their highest profile infrastructure project (Thameslink  2000-whatever-it-is-now) in order to embarrass Boris?  Bunch of muppets, the lot of them.

Whatever it is, the lack of a mutually beneficial agreement hardly bodes well for Boris’s attempts to get £40bn out of someone to build an airport in the wrong place that no one wants to fly from, nor his threats over PPP (hint: Gordon Brown’s got bigger fish to fry than Tube Lines), nor the attempt to get SWT signed up to Oyster PAYG.  Never mind walk before you can run, let’s master basic spasmodic twitching of the limbs, shall we?

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