TfL chief says problems ‘worse than crossrail’ due to hike in bumper fares
Losing an entire tube line is one of the options Transport for London may have to consider as a result of its financial woes, it turns out.
TfL’s finance chief Simon Kielonbach said a failure to secure government cash for long-term repairs and upgrades would have a disastrous effect on the capital’s transportation network.
Last week TfL warned that 18 percent of bus services and nine percent of tube services were facing the axe, which would mean removing 100 of the 700 bus routes and reducing services on 200 more.
Mr Kilonbach told the TfL finance committee on Wednesday that TfL could be forced to “close a line or part of a line completely or make small cuts in the whole. [Underground] Network”.
He did not name the line most likely to be closed, but the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines are reportedly at risk.
The Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines may also be alternatives due to low passenger numbers and overlapping rail or tube services.
DLR and London Overground services are also at risk, Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander told the committee.
Mr Kilonbach said there was a risk that TfL would have to issue a “section 114 notice” – effectively declaring itself bankrupt and handing over responsibility for the services back to the government.
This would mean that it would commit to providing only services required by law, such as school buses, taxi licensing, repair of some roads and the Woolwich Ferry.
It would also be likely that TfL would try to run only those services where it made a “profit,” he suggested.
The video of the TfL meeting can be viewed here:
Mayor Sadiq Khan has requested an urgent meeting with Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps, but has yet to receive a response.
TfL commissioner Andy Byford told the TfL finance committee that “there was less than three weeks to save TfL and London’s recovery”.
He said: “I never thought I’d say this, but taking the Elizabethan line across the line seems like an easier site, easier than trying to solve it.”
Mr Byford has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Transport requesting him to initiate negotiations. He said he was desperate to avoid what happened in the previous bail-out, when the deal was struck with only “11 minutes to go before the deal ends”.
Passengers may also have to face a bumper hike in fares from the new year. TfL’s plans are expected to increase the RPI rate of interest and one percent.
This is likely to mean an additional five percent on rent, though the final decision rests with Mr. Khan.
TfL ticketing chief Shashi Verma said: “It’s the city with the highest public transport fares in the world, to begin with.”
Mr Kielonbach said: “I think we are unfortunately facing the situation we first faced in May 2020, where we have to consider what is required under the law, and say that We can see no way, under S114 of the Local Government Finance Act, to balance the budget.
“For this we need to deduct all the expenses necessary for statutory purposes, which are very limited in the case of the transport services we operate, and to run the things that contribute to getting out of the problem and anything else.” To prevent that which makes the problem worse.
“Whereas in the past, of course the Tube and some of our rail services were covering their operating costs. Today it is not. It is not a threat. Given the lack of certainty about funding, this is a reality of the statutory situation in which it is us. “
A TfL spokesperson, asked whether London fares were the highest in the world, said: “In London, 72 percent of the operating costs of running the TfL network are covered entirely by fares and another 14 percent by other commercial revenues.
“Other cities cover a substantial portion of their costs from government subsidies or dedicated taxes.”