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‘A sticking plaster’: TfL’s £250m funding deal will not enhance London transport, government advisers warn

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The TfL funding settlement is a “sticking plaster” and will not enhance London’s transport network, the National Infrastructure Commission has said.

Transport for London (TfL)’s funding settlement is a “sticking plaster” and will not enhance the capital’s transport network, key government infrastructure advisers have warned.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said the government’s £250m capital funding settlement, announced in December, was welcome but would “not be sufficient” in the long run.

The deal came after City groups warned the operator was facing a financial “cliff edge” following years of lower commuter numbers in the post-pandemic period.

Since Covid-19, the government has propped up TfL to the tune of over £6bn. Yet calls have grown for a longer term arrangement to provide more certainty for the pipeline of necessary upgrades needed across the network.

The NIC recommended a five-year funding settlement, which would be “sufficient to enable both the renewal and enhancement of London transport.”

Elements of the London transport network, particularly the Bakerloo and Central Lines, have struggled in recent years without the necessary investment for critical upgrades, and delays and cancellations are soaring.

The Bakerloo Line trains are more than 50 years old and over a decade past their use date, prompting campaigners to warn that a “critical failure” is imminent without an urgent order for more rolling stock.

Meanwhile, the Central Line has been forced to introduce an emergency timetable and has at points operated with far less trains than it needs to run a peak service.

TfL is also in the process of formulating proposals for a £30-£40bn Crossrail 2 project to follow the Elizabeth Line’s roaring success, but they would be unlikely to go throuh given the current cash crunch.

The NIC’s calls come alongside reports that HS2 may make it to Euston as opposed to Old Oak Common, but with over a £1bn in taxpayer funding.

The government had been working for months to bring in private developers to fund a 4.5 mile tunnel that would guarantee the High Speed line links to the Central London terminus.

Responding to the report, John Dickie, Chief Executive of the lobby group BusinessLDN, said: “London’s ageing infrastructure requires investment to keep the city moving and growing sustainably.

“The National Infrastructure Commission rightly flags the urgent need for a long-term capital funding deal for Transport for London and the importance of ensuring HS2 reaches a regenerated Euston.

“Given the state of the public finances, crowding in private investment at scale will be essential to deliver the projects London and the UK needs. This will only be possible if politicians put an end to the constant chopping and changing that has plagued infrastructure delivery in recent years.”

The government and TfL have been approached for comment.

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