Government accuses Transport for London of ‘needless sabre-rattling’

·2-min read

London Underground trains dating from the 1970s will need to keep operating for another two decades without long-term Government funding, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL said it would not be able to replace the fleet of 36 Bakerloo line trains for “at least another 20 years” without sustained investment from the Government.

This is because it would be forced into a period of “managed decline” which would involve “significant cuts to renewals, enhancements and services”.

A train maintainer
The Bakerloo line trains were built in 1972 (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Department for Transport (DfT) accused TfL of “needless sabre-rattling”.

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

The Bakerloo line trains were built in 1972 and are already the oldest trains in operation in the UK.

Keeping the ageing trains running would likely lead to disruption as they would be “prone to failure”, TfL said.

The transport body added that a £1.9 billion funding gap could also require bus services to be reduced by 18% and Tube services by 9%.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “London’s public transport system is the backbone of the city’s economy – and without continued investment, it will slowly start to crumble.

“Ageing Bakerloo line trains will need to wait decades longer to be replaced and risk falling into disrepair, causing service delays and reductions.

“Renewals of the Tube fleet would also need to be deferred, new green technologies would take a backseat and train maintenance would be delayed, causing huge disruption to passengers and taking the transport network back to the dark 1970s.

“TfL investment and supply chain currently supports 43,000 jobs across the country, with 55p in every pound spent on London Underground by TfL going outside of London.

“All that is at risk if TfL is starved of funding. I’m clear that there can be no national recovery without a London recovery – and the levelling up agenda cannot come at the price of levelling down the capital.”

A DfT spokesman said: “The Government has stood by Londoners and their transport network throughout the pandemic, providing an unprecedented £4 billion to protect frontline jobs and services.

“Those deals have been fair to taxpayers across the country, and have focused on ensuring TfL is placed on a more stable financial footing for the future.

“The empty threats of managed decline are needless sabre-rattling. We have repeatedly shown our commitment to positive discussions, and look forward to working closely with the mayor to secure a fair deal which balances the needs of London and the interests of UK taxpayers.

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

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