The Railway industry Association (RIA), which represents over 300 UK rail businesses, has responded to a Budget Update published by Transport for London (TfL) today.
Despite forecasts that show that without the Omicron variant, passenger numbers would have returned to 82% of pre-Covid levels by the end of the 2021/22 financial year, the update shows:
- TfL will face a £1.4bn funding gap in the next financial year;
- Several major projects have been paused or cancelled, including the Piccadilly Line Signalling Upgrade and Jubilee Line Optimisation; and
- Significant efficiencies are expected, yet there is no increased visibility of rail project work needed to enable this.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “Today’s update from TfL provides an optimistic picture of passengers returning to the rail network, reaching more than 80% of pre-Covid levels by Easter, if it wasn’t for the restrictions imposed due to Omicron. Yet, in stark contrast, the update also shows London’s transport system facing severe economic strain ahead.
“Given the inevitable return of passenger numbers, now is clearly not the time to kick vital upgrades to London’s rail and tube network into the long grass. Otherwise passengers and businesses, both in London and across the UK, will begin to see the impacts of this funding uncertainty for TfL – and a lack of investment in rail upgrades – and this in turn risks undermining the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
“What is clear to everyone is that the Government and Mayor of London need to agree a long-term multi-year rail funding deal, beyond half-yearly or annual settlements, to give certainty to the railway industry so it can plan, build and maintain world-class rail in London, at the best possible price for the taxpayer. Only by doing this will London’s transport system be able to support the millions of people who – both now and in the longer term – want to work, visit friends and family, and enjoy leisure and hospitality, in the capital.”
Photo credit: RIA / TfL