TFL ditches free New Year’s Eve London Tube amid funding crisis

·3-min read
TFL ditches free New Year’s Eve London Tube amid funding crisis

New Year revellers will not get their traditional free Tube ride home due to Transport for London’s financial crisis, it has emerged.

TfL said it was having to charge for late night travel on Hogmanay and early on January 1 due to the “catastrophic impact of the pandemic” on its finances.

There is no public access to the fireworks display on the Thames for a second successive year but Mayor Sadiq Khan is holding a ticketed celebration at Trafalgar Square and hopes party-goers will return to the West End.

Normally the Underground is free from 11.45pm until 4.30am – a tradition dating to 2000, with the cost often covered by a sponsor.

The Tube will still run through the night on December 31 but passengers will have to pay to travel after no sponsor could be found.

It is the second year of no free travel – though last year’s celebrations were restricted due to the second wave of the pandemic.

TfL said: “Following the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on TfL’s finances, TfL unfortunately will not be able to offer free travel on New Year’s Eve.

“Services on the transport network will run through the night, ensuring that people can enjoy everything London has to offer and get home safely.”

Mr Khan was on Thursday facing calls to ditch plans to offer up to £12m to TfL executives if they help the organisation to solve its financial crisis and break even.

Its current Government bail-out deal runs out on December 11 and it is seeking £500m to keep services running until April, plus £1.2bn for 2022/23 and more than £1bn a year for major upgrades and maintenance.

Without the cash, Mr Khan says a Tube line may have to be closed and 100 bus routes axed.

London TravelWatch, the passenger watchdog, has urged Londoners to write to their MP to help the capital secure additional funding.

The London Assembly will on Thursday afternoon consider a Tory motion calling for the TfL bonus scheme to be postponed.

Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservatives, said: “TfL’s plan to award £12 million in bonuses next year while the Mayor is warning about service cuts shows he is negotiating in bad faith. If he scrapped executive hand-outs, it would boost London’s case in the bailout talks.”

TfL has also warned passengers travelling over the festive period that many journeys could be disrupted, including to and from Heathrow airport.

There will be no service anywhere on the London Underground or London Overground on Christmas day, with last trains earlier than normal on Christmas Eve. There will be no buses on Christmas day.

TfL Rail and DLR trains will run down from 8pm on Christmas Eve and there will be no night buses.

There will be no TfL Rail or Heathrow Express services to Heathrow on Christmas Day or Boxing Day due to Network Rail signalling works.

In addition, parts of the Piccadilly line will be closed on Boxing Day and throughout the festive period to enable safety-critical renewal work.

Heathrow passengers needing public transport will be left with coach services from Hammersmith or buses from Acton Town.

There will also be planned works on the Metropolitan, Jubilee, Central, and Bakerloo lines during the festive period.

Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor for transport, said: “Do remember to check before you travel because although most of the network is running, there are a few closures over the holiday period.”

For details of travel changes, visit: tfl.gov.uk/christmas-travel

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