HC Deb 15 February 1995 vol 254 cc677-8W
Mr. Barry Porter

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the extension to Lewisham of the docklands light railway.

Mr. Curry

I have today given my approval for Docklands Light Railway Ltd. to shortlist four private consortia to tender for the concession to finance, build, own and maintain the extension of the DLR to Lewisham, under the Government's private finance initiative. The competition is expected to last about nine months, with the concession contract being concluded before the end of this year. Construction should start in 1996, and the extension should then open to passenger services in 1999.

Private sector interest in the project has been strong, with seven consortia representing a wide range of finance, construction and project management expertise from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan competing to prequalify. The four selected by DLR Ltd. to proceed to tendering are, in alphabetical order:

  • Brown and Root, AMEC and Dragados
  • Docklands Link Group
  • Lewisham Extension Company
  • Light Rail Group.

In[...]itement last October, the Secretary of State indicate(' that the project could not be financially viable[...]Cutty Sark station included and that the station could therefore be built only if its costs were to be met in full by third parties. He said that contributors should agree unconditionally and contractually by the end of January 1995 to meet the actual costs of the station as they arose during the construction period. I have to report that no funding package was submitted by third parties. The tender documents to be issued by DLR Ltd. for the Lewisham project will therefore make it clear that bids are being invited on [...]basis of six stations, without provision for a station at Cutty Sark.

Greenwich council, local landowners and other interested bodies wish to discuss with the four prequalified bidders for the Lewisham extension the possibility of their making separate contractual and financial arrangements to provide a station at Cutty Sark. Those discussions must neither delay the Lewisham project nor prejudice its financial arrangements. The decision whether to enter into negotiations or reach an agreement with the council and other local interests will be for the private bidders to make, according to their own commercial judgment. I have asked DLR Ltd. to provide information, as requested, to assist any discussions between third parties.

I am pleased to confirm that the Lewisham line will have a new station at Island Gardens just north of the river, which will be 600 m from Cutty Sark via the Thames foot tunnel and another alongside the Greenwich BR station, some 700 m south west of the Cutty Sark. Further south it will have stations at Deptford Bridge, Elverson Road and Lewisham town centre, all in the Deptford city challenge area. The extension will therefore dramatically improve access to Greenwich and Lewisham, and provide new cross-river access to and from the City, Docklands and Stratford for local residents, tourists and north Kent commuters. It will be a splendid addition to the capital's public transport network and will reinforce the Government's commitment to promote regeneration in the Thames gateway.