A controversial tunnel which will connect Greenwich with London’s Docklands will cost Transport for London (TfL) almost £2bn over the next three decades.
Although the actual construction of the Silvertown Tunnel remains at £1bn, figures from the capital’s transport operator show that the overall cost for building, maintaining and operating the tunnel will be £65m a year from its scheduled opening in 2025.
Over the 25-year payment term, this adds up to £1.6bn, which rises to a total of around £2bn when interest payments are included.
The overall cost is around three times higher than was initially anticipated, with the tunnel first forecast to come in at around £600m.
Green party London Assembly member Caroline Russell said that Mayor Sadiq Khan had been trying to hide the actual cost of the project, which has attracted fierce opposition since it was first announced.
“The Mayor has not been straight with Londoners. Last year he told us Silvertown Road Tunnel would cost £1bn, in March it was £1.2bn, and now we finally see what TfL will actually pay and it’s heading for £2bn. This is outrageous”, she said.
“When my predecessor on the Assembly first started opposing this scheme in 2012 Transport for London described the cost as being about £600 million, we are stratospheres above that now and TfL will be saddled paying for this, even in our uncertain future.”
She added that Khan should “do the decent thing” and cancel the project, which has been opposed on the grounds that it will worsen air quality and congestion in the vicinity.
In a statement, Transport for London said that the additional costs were not linked to the construction of the project, which remains at £1bn.
“All payments towards the Silvertown Tunnel will be funded from a road user charge which will cover both the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnel and will only begin once it is available for use, with payments linked to the performance of the contractor on key criteria such as availability.
“These charges will not only repay the construction costs, but will also cover the ongoing operational costs for the tunnel for 25 years as well as any maintenance and asset renewal required”, it said.
A spokesperson for the Mayor said that the project was necessary because the current infrastructure was “antiquated and worn out”.
“Sadiq has been clear that he doesn’t want to replace one health crisis with another, and he is determined that our city’s recovery from coronavirus will be clean, green and sustainable.”
The new tunnel will be covered by the extended Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) from 2021, they added.