Metro line “could be closed” due to TfL funding crisis

Yesterday, TfL chief financial officer Simon Kilonback made the comments to a committee (Photo: Youtube / TFL, Getty)

An entire metro line could have to close and more than 100 bus services in the capital could be cut without government funding, Transport for London has warned.

Options are being considered amid “significant customer disruption” if government financial support is not assured and the network falls into “managed decline”.

TfL chief financial officer Simon Kilonback on Wednesday painted a grim picture of what lack of funding would mean.

He told TfL’s finance committee: “We should cut the metro network by 9% and the bus network by 18%.

“In practice, on the bus network, this means that more than 100 lines are removed and that on the remaining lines, 200 would benefit from service frequency reductions.

“For the pipe network, we always analyze the impacts, for example of a complete closure of a line or part of a line or of smaller reductions on the whole [Underground] network’.

Subway lines threatened with closure were not mentioned, but the Bakerloo line, whose trains date back to the 1970s, is said to be at risk.

Mr Kilonback also said there was a risk that TfL would have to issue a “Section 114 Notice” and indeed file for bankruptcy.

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Such a move would mean that it would only commit to providing services required by law, such as school buses, taxi licenses, some road repairs and the Woolwich ferry.

An emergency funding agreement between the government and TfL expires on December 11.

Andy Byford, London’s transport commissioner said he was not “hyperbolic” but believed there was “less than three weeks to save TfL”.

Mr Byford said: “If we don’t get the help we’re looking for, I think there would be far-reaching consequences for Transport for London and all who depend on it.”

He said that without the financial support TfL would fall into “a very damaging and vicious cycle of underinvestment and reduction in services which, literally, over time, would inevitably bring us back to the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s‘.

The Ministry of Transport (DfT) accused TfL of “unnecessary saber stalking”.

In a statement, he said: ‘The government has supported Londoners and their transport network throughout the pandemic, providing an unprecedented £ 4bn to protect jobs and frontline services.

“These deals were fair to taxpayers across the country and focused on ensuring that TfL rests on a more stable financial basis for the future.

“The empty threats of managed decline are unnecessary – we have repeatedly shown our commitment to positive discussions and look forward to working closely with the mayor to strike a fair deal that balances the needs of London and the interests of taxpayers British.

“We will not conduct these discussions through the media.”

A TfL spokesperson added: “The UK’s recovery from the pandemic depends on a recovery from London and that needs a properly funded transport network in the capital.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the government to preserve the recovery and agree to a longer-term funding agreement as we strive to achieve financial sustainability by April 2023.

“Our current short-term funding agreement expires on December 11, and we need to plan for a range of potential outcomes beyond those defined by our finance committee.

“We look forward to the start of discussions with the government. “

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