By LDRS Reporter Jessie Mathewson
Transport for London (TfL) must “completely overhaul” its business plan because of the coronavirus pandemic, its finance chief has said.
The network stands to lose up to £4 billion of income this financial year – and chief finance officer Simon Kilonback today warned of long-term consequences for transport investment in the capital.
Half a billion pounds of TfL upgrades will now be delayed in 2020/21, he said.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has branded the cuts a “false economy” forced on London by the Government.
TfL has been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, with 90 per cent of fare revenue evaporating during lockdown as passenger numbers dropped.
Tube journeys fell 95 per cent when coronavirus lockdown began, with bus journeys down 85 per cent.
The network secured an eleventh hour bailout from the Government last month, just hours before it ran out of cash.
This £1.6 billion funding injection will keep trains and buses running until October – but the Mayor has warned the deal is a “sticking plaster”.
TfL officers set out emergency budget plans at a virtual board meeting today (Monday 2 June) – with £500 million of planned investment now set to be delayed.
More than 300 projects across London were paused as the impact of the outbreak became clear, Mr Kilonback said.
But most building schemes on TfL’s books will continue – because the price of scrapping construction or cancelling contracts outweighs any savings, the finance boss explained.
The Northern line extension, Tube station upgrades and construction of a temporary foot and cycle crossing by Hammermsith Bridge will all continue.
And work on the controversial Silvertown road tunnel, and Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion will also restart.
The network will also prioritise plans to widen pavements and build temporary cycle lanes, so commuters can avoid public transport while the Covid-19 outbreak continues.
But TfL’s overall investment will be cut this year – despite the fact that national train line upgrades funded by Network Rail are currently increasing.
TfL boss Mike Brown said it was a “massive irony” that London is losing out on cash because of “the different relationship we appear to have with central Government”.
And the Mayor warned cutting capital investment in London transport is a “false economy”.
“The Government should be looking for shovel-ready projects and a stimulus,” Mr Khan said.
“I can’t think of a better stimulus than investing in capital in the capital.”