TfL warns of ‘managed fall’, but Department of Transportation alleges ‘unnecessary saber-rattle’ amid funding dispute
Adiq Khan has warned that London’s transport network will “slowly crumble” without continued investment as he seeks to secure a long-term deal from the government.
With TfL set to enter a state of “managed degradation” beyond 2023, a number of projects are scheduled to be canceled or postponed, including the planned upgrade of Bakerloo Line trains.
Introduced in the 1970s, the trains used on the Bakerloo Line are some of the oldest in use in the country, but long-term funding constraints will mean they cannot be replaced until the 2040s when they are 70 years old. Will continue the service. ,
The Mayor of London has warned that without long-term investment, tube trains run the “risk of malfunction”, which will affect the reliability of TfL services.
Mr Khan said: “London’s public transport system is the backbone of the city’s economy – and without continued investment, it will slowly crumble. It will take decades more to wait and risk a replacement for the aging Bakerloo Line trains , which may lead to delays and outages in service.
“Renewal of the tube fleet will also need to be postponed, new green technologies will take a backseat and train maintenance will be delayed, causing huge disruption to passengers and driving the transport network back into the dark.”
The standard lifespan of railway vehicles is about 40 years, but trains on the Bakerloo Line are already about 50 years old, while trains on the Jubilee Line are approaching halfway through their expected lifespan.
London Underground’s Fleet Manager Paul Downham said that as trains age, “we start to see age-related defects”.
Mr Downham said: “As assets continue to grow, we begin to see age-related defects requiring significantly more heavy interventions, meaning taking trains out of service for significant periods of time.
“With trains this old, we will usually see defects like cracks and rust within the car body of the train. We’ve spent a lot of time repairing welds before and as it ages, the risk of those defects reoccurring is still ours.
“If we do not have the necessary funds to replace the assets in a timely manner, this risk is going to grow and increase which ultimately means we will have to take trains out of service for longer periods, affecting service for TfL customers. Is going to do.”
TfL Commissioner Andy Byford has said that he “knows first-hand from his time as head of New York City’s public transportation network that under-investment on a city’s transportation system can cause damage”.
Mr Byford said: “While serving as president of New York City Transit I had to wrestle with outdated signaling systems, poor infrastructure and insufficient capacity.
“I have repeatedly warned that a similar situation could easily occur in London if TfL lacks funding. Without meaningful continued investment we will see a harmful vicious cycle of underinvestment and service cuts, which will destroy London. Will pull back into an old, scarce and unreliable transport network in the 1970s and 80s era.”
With only 18 days left for the current emergency funding deal for TfL to expire, Sadiq Khan has insisted that London’s transport network needs around £500 million in support to keep it running until March, and by next fiscal year. Another £1.2 billion is required.
The Department of Transportation has said that they have continued to “support” TfL during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that any future funding agreements “should be fair to taxpayers”.
A DfT spokesman said: “The government has stood with Londoners and their transport network during the pandemic, providing an unprecedented £4 billion to protect frontline jobs and services.
“Those deals have been fair to taxpayers across the country, and have focused on ensuring that TfL is kept on a more stable financial footing for the foreseeable future.
“The empty threats of a managed decline are unnecessary saber-rattling. We have repeatedly shown our commitment to positive discussions, and look forward to working closely with the Mayor to secure a fair deal that meets the needs of London and the UK.” balances the interests of taxpayers.
“We will not conduct these discussions through the media.”