TfL Secures £ 1 Billion Bailout in Exchange for Promoting Driverless Trains | london underground
Work to introduce driverless underground trains has been demanded by ministers as part of an emergency funding deal for Transport for London, with the government injecting just over £ 1 billion to help the capital to recover from the pandemic.
TfL will be forced to produce business cases for driverless trains on the Piccadilly and Waterloo and City lines in exchange for the latest funding, which also comes with an obligation to make £ 300million in annual reductions and reduce pensions.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said the short-term settlement was “sticky plaster” and he reluctantly agreed to the terms. However, he vowed to fight any further initiatives to introduce driverless trains, which he said would cost billions of pounds and constitute “gross abuse of taxpayer money.”
The regulation is designed to provide financial support until December 11 and will bring the government’s total support to TfL since March 2020 to more than £ 4 billion.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘This £ 1.08 billion financial package will support London and its transport network during the pandemic and ensure it is a modern, efficient and viable network. for the future.
“Throughout this process, the government has maintained that these support programs must be fair to UK taxpayers and provided that action is taken to put TfL on the path to long-term financial sustainability. As part of today’s settlement, the mayor agreed to new measures that will help ensure this.
The bitter standoff between the Labor mayor and the Tory government does not appear to have subsided, with ministers still claiming that TfL’s mismanagement, rather than the multibillion pound loss of revenue when passengers were asked to avoiding public transport during the pandemic, is responsible for its worrying financial situation.
In addition to the pension review and £ 300m in annual savings, TfL must find increased revenue of £ 500-1bn per year from 2023 – which could lead to steep rate hikes – and lead a joint review with the government of service levels on its transportation network. .
Unions have threatened strikes over attacks on pensions, as well as measures to remove drivers from metro lines. The driver would be replaced by an on-board attendant at the government’s proposal, following the operating model of the Docklands Light Railway, which is part of the TfL network in east London.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said it was “a shameful deal-rigging operation and it will be fought by our members whether they come from Whitehall or Town Hall. through London-wide industrial action if necessary ”. He said driverless trains were “unwanted, unaffordable and dangerous”.
Khan said he had “seen the worst conditions the government wanted to impose on London, which would not only have required huge cuts in transport services equivalent to canceling one in five bus routes or the closure of an underground line, but would have hampered that of London. economic recovery as well as national recovery ”.
He added: “I want to be honest with Londoners: this is not the deal we wanted.”
He said he hoped returning passenger revenues, most of which come from the metro, would increase enough to avoid introducing “unfair measures.” Tube usage fell to 4% of normal levels during the first lockdown and now represents around 40% of pre-Covid numbers.
TfL boss Transport Commissioner Andy Byford said the pandemic showed London’s financial model, which relied heavily on fare revenue, was “not fit for purpose”.
He said the deal would allow TfL to continue to offer near full service levels and deliver upgrades such as the Elizabeth Line and the Northern Line Extension, but added: “It is essential that we use also this period to agree on a longer term settlement. so that we can effectively plan for London’s future and deliver maximum value for money through our contracts and supply chain. “
TfL will also need to raise funds for repairs to the borough-run Hammersmith Bridge, with the government contributing a third of the cost of repairing the Thames crossing. The bridge was closed for just over nine months – and for two years to traffic – after cracks were found in the structure.