tfl business plan
© Magdalena Warmuz Dent

Transport for London (TfL) has published its five-year Business Plan draft covering 2020/21 to 2024/25 to support sustainable growth in London

TfL’s five-year business plan includes continued investment to encourage greater use of public transport, walking and cycling and significantly improving the environment and air quality in London.

Alongside the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, the draft business plan will be considered by TfL’s Finance Committee on 18 December. It sets out how transport will support sustainable growth, making the city a safer, greener and better place to live, work and visit.

Despite continued uncertainty in the economy, the business plan shows strong progress in reducing the net cost of TfL’s operations. However, it is essential for continued certainty in Government investment in transport assets to ensure that services support the growing city. TfL’s finances continue to be subject to substantial pressures as a result of the average £700m a year reduction in Government funding for its day-to-day operations.

Since last year’s plan, Crossrail has revealed it needs more time to complete software development for signalling and train systems and for overall safety approvals on the line. As a result, the opening of the Elizabeth line will not occur in 2020 but in 2021. This has created significant additional capital investment and revenue pressures.

TfL reduced the net annual cost of operations by more than £1bn since 2015/16, while a range of improvements have continued to be delivered.

Last year, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced in central London, peak-hour services were extended on the Victoria line and train frequencies increased on some London Overground lines. These improvements are contributing to operating income being forecast to be almost £6bn in 2019/20.

TfL remains on track to generate an operating surplus by 2022/23, meaning it will cover the cost of financing, maintaining, operating and renewing its transport network. This will help reduce borrowing levels.

Significant investment will in the planned period includes:

  • Completing the signalling upgrade and increasing capacity by 33% on the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and District lines, delivering refurbished trains on the Central line and new trains on the Piccadilly line.
  • Continuing the electrification of London buses to more than 2,000 by end of 2024/25. TfL will also implement its Bus Safety Standard to include Intelligent Speed Assistance as standard.
  • Reducing TfL’s environmental impact through installing solar panels on selected London Underground, DLR and tram depots to deliver more than 1.1 megawatts of power, and the continued retrofitting of lighting to energy-efficient LEDs. TfL will also be increasing the number of renewable energy sources, with an aim for its rail services to be 100% carbon-free by 2030.
  • New walk-through trains on the DLR will be delivered, increasing capacity on the lines and providing more frequent, direct services. Renewal of roads and paving will also recommence to improve journeys for those walking, cycling or taking public transport.
  • Supporting Crossrail in the work necessary to allow the Elizabeth line to open. Construction continues in stations and tunnels on line, with safety-critical systems now being installed and tested.
  • Tightening the Low Emission Zone standards and expanding the successful central London ULEZ to cover the area within the North and South Circular Roads.
  • Investing in high-quality cycle routes across London and working with local communities to improve high streets, making them safer and accessible to everyone. Delivering these schemes forms part of TfL’s commitment to Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate death and serious injury from London’s roads by 2041.
  • Delivering 10,000 homes and two million sq ft commercial floorspace across London, with 50% of the homes being affordable.
  • Introducing new services on the Northern line to Battersea and the Barking Riverside extension on the London Overground.

While London has benefited from third-party funding for public transport projects, such as the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, TfL did not see any commitment in the 2019 Government spending round. This is now limiting long-term investment in the transport sector.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am hugely proud of what we have achieved improving transport across London – this is despite the ongoing economic uncertainty and the average reduction of £700m per year in TfL’s funding from central Government.

“Alongside our continuing modernisation of the Tube, TfL fares will be frozen again this January, and we continue to take some of the boldest action of any city in the world greening up our transport network and improving air quality across the capital.

“But London also needs a government that recognises the importance of continued investment in new infrastructure for the future of our economy, and it is essential the new government commits to working with us to deliver vital projects such as Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension.”

London’s transport commissioner, Mike Brown MVO, added: “In this time of uncertainty, this Business Plan is focused on running safe and reliable services while investing to improve travel.

“But cities can only thrive if they benefit from steady, sustained funding in existing and new infrastructure. We are working urgently to secure this, and I will be writing to the government to seek this investment to keep London and the country moving.”

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