Tube and rail strikes: Sadiq Khan urged to suspend £12.50-a-day Ulez levy during next week’s industrial action

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 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

Sadiq Khan should suspend the ultra-low emission zone to help commuters during next week’s Tube and rail strikes, according to a motoring group.

The AA called for a temporary halt to the £12.50-a-day levy - saying this would also help drivers facing record fuel prices at the pumps.

Average prices have reached 187p for unleaded and 193p for diesel.

The three days of strike action on the national railways, which will coincide with the shutdown of the London Underground on Tuesday, are expected to cause a week of chaos and force many travellers behind the wheel.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “There is a torrid time ahead for travellers with train and Tube strikes looming next week, so perhaps the Mayor of London should suspend the Ulez charge to help poorer commuters who will now have to turn to their cars.”

Transport for London has warned passengers to expect “severe disruption or no service on all Underground lines” next Tuesday due to action by the RMT and Unite over the feared threat to jobs and pensions.

Tube services are unlikely to return to normal until Wednesday lunchtime.

But there will be further disruption when RMT workers at Network Rail and the train operating companies take further action next Thursday and Saturday. This will impact on the Elizabeth line and the parts of the Underground where tracks are shared with mainline trains, such as on parts of the Bakerloo and District lines. More than 800,000 vehicles a day drive within the Ulez zone, which expanded to the inner boundaries of the North and South Circular roads last October.

However only around 40,000 “dirty” vehicles a day are liable for the 24/7 levy as the vast majority - around 94 per cent - comply with the rules on exhaust emissions.

Mr Khan is currently consulting Londoners on plans to expand the Ulez to cover all of Greater London by August 2023, while increasing the fine for failing to pay the levy from £160 to £180.

Hopes emerged on Thursday that the price of oil may have peaked - which may eventually result in a reduction in fuel prices at the pumps.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Full tanks now cost just under £103 for petrol and £106.32 for diesel.

“Fortunately, there was a 2p a litre reduction in the cost of wholesale petrol on Wednesday which could signal prices finally stabilising at the pumps. But much depends on wholesale prices remaining at a similar level for several days, or even falling.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “ULEZ and congestion charging play a vital role in reducing pollution and congestion in London. They will remain in place for the duration of the week and will not be affected by the industrial action.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: " At the heart of this industrial action is the Government’s appalling approach to public transport across the country, not least its continued resistance to delivering the sustainable funding TfL desperately needs.

“With TfL expecting the capital’s roads to be more congested next week, it’s important people travel only if essential and the Mayor is calling on Londoners to cycle and walk whenever possible in order to reduce pollution and minimise congestion.”

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