London’s transport chief has hailed a new £1.2bn central government funding package for the capital, which he said would allow Transport for London (TfL) to increase funding for deteriorating assets such as road bridges and tunnels.
Last year, TfL warned of a ‘high risk of unplanned bridge and tunnel closures' on its road network, while rail services and assets were likely to degrade, due to the ongoing multi-billion funding crisis sparked by COVID.
As Highways has reported, TfL has been unable to carry out major renewals on a number of structures, including Vauxhall Bridge (pictured), because of a lack of cash.
TfL Commissioner Andy Byford said that under this week’s agreement, which follows a series of short-term funding deals, London ‘will move away from the managed decline of the transport network’.
He said that under the deal TfL ‘expects to receive further base funding of around £1.2bn from government until March 2024 and that it gives TfL ongoing revenue support should passenger numbers not recover at the rate budgeted’.
He added that the deal would help TfL avoid large-scale cuts to services, and means that it will commit £3.6bn to capital investment over the period, with around £200m of new capital funding from the Government, beyond previously budgeted sources.
Mr Byford said: ‘The agreement also allows us to increase our asset renewal programme to help ensure our network remains reliable, and means we can restore our Healthy Streets programme, making our roads safer, and more attractive for those walking and cycling.’
TfL said the deal leaves a gap in its budget of around £740m across 2022-23 and 2023-24 and that in order to accept the agreement it had to identify measures that would allow it to balance its budget.
However, it still needed to achieve further savings of around £90m in 2022-23 and £140m in 2023-24 beyond the £730m annual recurring savings programme it had already committed to.
The Department for Transport said that as part of the deal, London mayor Sadiq Khan had ‘committed to submitting proposals to reform pensions, in line with TfL’s plans to become financially sustainable, by the end of September’.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps aimed a parting attack on the mayor, despite suggesting the funding could help put politics aside.
‘For this to work, the mayor must follow through on his promises to get TfL back on a steady financial footing, stop relying on government bailouts and take responsibility for his actions,’ he said.
Nick Bowes, chief executive of the Centre for London, said the news would bring ‘a huge sigh of relief from Londoners and London’s businesses’.