London Underground’s first major expansion this century demonstrates how the capital must “play its part” in the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has claimed.
Northern line trains began serving two new stations – Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station – in south London on Monday following the completion of a £1.1 billion project.
Mr Khan, who has been embroiled in a long-running row with the Government over funding for Transport for London (TfL), said he was “proud and grateful” to be joined by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on one of the first trains to serve Battersea Power Station.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s great to see the difference teamwork makes, it’s great to see the difference investing in infrastructure makes in relation to unlocking jobs and homes.
“Most of the things we’re using today were built around the country. Every pound we spend on the Underground, 55 pence goes to the rest of the country.
“That’s good for the Secretary of State to see. I’m quite clear, you don’t make our country more equal by making London poorer.
“If we’re going to get a national recovery we need London to play its part.”
Mr Khan has repeatedly called for the Government to give TfL a long-term funding package as its finances struggle to cope with the collapse in fares revenue during the pandemic.
The latest agreement worth £1.08 billion was awarded on June 1 but only runs until December 11.
In April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused the mayor of “blowing” TfL’s finances through an “irresponsible fares policy”.
Asked whether he was satisfied that TfL was running its finances properly, Mr Shapps replied: “TfL will have to take, and has had to take, some very difficult decisions in order to make sure the finances stack up.
“The Government’s put in, I think, £4.1 billion so far and counting. We’re going to have further conversations with them.
“We wanted to make sure that it’s responsible and fair to the rest of the country.”
The extension of the Northern line is the first major expansion of the Tube since the Jubilee line was opened in the late 1990s.
The Greater London Authority borrowed £1 billion from the Treasury for the project, which will be funded through business rates from the local area and about £270 million of contributions from developers.
Major construction on the two-mile twin railway tunnel between Kennington and Battersea began in 2015.
TfL estimated that the new services will support 25,000 new jobs and 20,000 new homes.
Billions of pounds have been pumped into the area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station for residential and business use, and the building of a new US embassy in Nine Elms.
The opening of two new stations brings the total on the network to 272.