Coronavirus: Tube bailout needed ‘by end of day’, Sadiq Khan says

Alternate ticket turnstiles are cordoned off to make commuters observe social distancing measures as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, at Westminster underground stationImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Transport for London must cut its Tube and bus networks without emergency funding, the mayor warned.

Transport for London (TfL) will be forced to reduce services unless it receives a government grant by the end of the day, Sadiq Khan has claimed.

Without financial support, the transport body must cut its Tube and bus networks, the mayor of London said.

Mr Khan said TfL had been negotiating with the Government for about six weeks.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said negotiations were at an “advanced stage”.

TfL has previously said it expects to lose £4bn this year due to the impact of coronavirus.

Speaking on LBC Radio the Labour mayor said: “At a time when the Government is wanting us to increase services to get into the recovery phase, we might be required to cut services because the Government is failing to give us the grant support we need.

“TfL is legally treated like a local authority, which means we have to be able to balance the books.

“If we don’t get the deal done today, the [Chief Financial Officer] of TfL has legal duties that he has to follow.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Sadiq Khan said TfL must “balance the books”

If TfL publishes an unbalanced budget it will be forced to issue a Section 114 notice – the equivalent of a public body going bust – which would ban it from spending any new cash.

TfL – which runs the Underground, buses, and some overground rail services – has already used £1bn of its reserves to keep the network running.

It costs £600m a month to keep the network running on its current reduced service.

The lockdown has led to a 95% cut in people using the Tube compared to this time last year.

The number of bus passengers has also dropped, by 85%, and customers no longer have to tap-in to pay for rides as part of measures to protect drivers.

Most TfL services are still running, but 7,000 staff – about 25% of the workforce – have been furloughed to cut costs.

Image copyright

Image caption

Travellers using London buses do not currently need to pay

Conservative candidate for mayor of London, Shaun Bailey, said: “Sadiq Khan has failed in his job as chairman of Transport for London.

“Coronavirus highlighted existing structural flaws within TfL’s balance sheet – it is not the primary cause.

“It is simply wrong for Sadiq Khan to then use Londoners – and key workers, making critical journeys – as collateral to get a bailout to cover his mismanagement and bad decision making.”

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said: “It is a commercial discussion. We remain in close contact with the mayor and TfL to look at how we can support them.

“Our priority is on reaching an agreement which keeps critical services running for those passengers who must use public transport to get work, ensuring we keep London moving safely.”

BBC News

Leave a Reply