Mayor says project paused until finances resolved with government
A Piccadilly line upgrade that would allow more trains on the line has been paused because of strain on Transport for London’s (TfL) budget amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Mayor has confirmed.
The planned signalling upgrade, along with new trains, will increase capacity on the line by 60 per cent – and earlier this year, TfL boss Mike Brown described it as the network’s “number one priority”.
This will also mean a further delay in the promised introduction of a full Piccadilly line service at Turnham Green station.
But it is now on hold – as are repairs to Hammersmith Bridge and the Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham.
Planning for the Sutton tram extension, the Crossrail Two line that would link Surrey and Hertfordshire to the city centre, and a planned cycling and walking bridge over the Thames at Rotherhithe has also been paused.
Sadiq Khan said speeding up the Piccadilly line would be vital for the capital – but cannot go ahead “until we’ve resolved the finances”.
“It would increase the frequency of trains. Even with Heathrow as it is now, forget a new runway three, it would increase capacity hugely so we need it but that’s paused,” he said.
“Those capital projects where we’re contractually obliged to follow through, we’re going to follow through,” the Mayor told a meeting of the London Assembly’s budget scrutiny committee on Tuesday (7 July).
“Those that are quite a long way down the course we’ll follow through – but those that are planned but aren’t contractually committed on, where we don’t have a funding source […] will be paused.”
Projects already on the books, like the Ultra Low Emission Zone extension to the North and South Circular roads, the upgrade to Bank station and the Northern line extension will continue.
TfL has faced a huge revenue hit during coronavirus – passengers fell 95 per cent on the Tube and 85 per cent on buses at the peak of the crisis, meaning 90 per cent of normal fares were lost.
The network agreed a £1.6 billion bailout with Government in May to keep services running until October.
But it cannot plan for capital investment without longer term security – and further funding negotiations will take place over summer.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said it was “depressing” that the Piccadilly line signalling upgrade has been shelved.
“Getting agreement on funding and the green light for the Piccadilly line upgrade is a critical test of whether Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson can put aside their differences and for once put the interests of London first,” she said.
Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter
July 9, 2020