A councillor is pleading for help in saving the stricken Metropolitan Line Extension from its funding limbo.

Cllr Derrick Ashley, who represents Hitchin South at Hertfordshire County Council, wrote to Lord Adonis – the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, which works alongside the Treasury – seeking intervention to resolve the scheme’s existing financial impasse.  

The project, which looks to connect the Metropolitan Line in Croxley to several new stations across Watford, was originally costed at £284 million.

However the cost has spiralled, with Transport for London (TfL) now quoting a figure closer to £360 million.

TfL refuses to bridge the funding gap and is asking its partners, which include the Department for Transport (DfT), Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Watford Borough Council, to meet the deficit.

The scheme was recently left out of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s transport strategy for a second time, causing concern among parties who have already committed significant funding to the project.

In his letter, Cllr Ashley said: “I am writing to seek your intervention regarding the Metropolitan Line Extension scheme, the delivery of which now appears to be in jeopardy following positions taken by the Mayor of London and TfL.

“I am seeking your support in seeking to break this apparent deadlock.

“In late 2016, the non-appearance of the scheme within the TfL business plan led to some concern from the fundraising partners.

“The funding partners believe MLX remains eminently deliverable and needs to be given the best opportunity to progress. To this end, your assistance in seeking to engage and challenge the mayor and TfL on their position would be welcomed.”

Along with DfT, the partners have paid out more than £100m to date, with TfL declaring expenditure of around £70m on the project.

Citing the scheme’s potential to bring “economic and operational benefits” to Watford and beyond, Cllr Ashley continued: “TfL have stated that unless a full funding package can be made available, the scheme cannot be progressed through procurement processes.”

He says these processes must commence this summer to ensure the scheme can progress prior to Transport and Works Act Order powers lapsing in August 2018.

Cllr Ashley concluded: “The non-delivery of MLX would be equally damaging to any effective relationship between London and its surrounding authorities, which is likely to be increasingly important in the future as London’s aspirations for growth, as set out in the mayor’s recent transport strategy, require collaborative working with neighbours to collectively undertake the cross boundary, co-investment schemes that will be necessary.”

TfL is now forecasting an in-service date of 2022 if the project does go ahead.