Transport for London has described itself as being “in active discussion with the government” about a draft proposal for a new funding arrangement, with an extension to the current short-term funding support due to expire today.
Commissioner Andy Byford said the discussion is to ensure the draft proposal is “fair and deliverable and can prevent the managed decline of the capital’s transport network”, adding that TfL “hope these discussions can be concluded soon”.
The statement comes on the final day of the latest elongation of the fourth “extraordinary funding and finance package” since passengers followed government advice to stay at home when the pandemic began, with devastating impacts on TfL’s revenue from fares. The fourth package was originally introduced in February and has been extended three times.
The statement follows Byford telling the TfL board last Wednesday that the draft proposal, which he said had been delivered late on the previous Friday evening, was “extremely complex”, “market sensitive” and “confidential”. The RMT union announced the day before the board meeting that its members working on the London Underground will go on strike on 19 August because TfL refused to show them the draft proposal.
The ensuing latest extension to the February settlement was granted to give Byford and colleagues sufficient time to digest the details. In the TfL statement, Byford reiterates that TfL has previously told the government that it will need a further £927 million along with “a long-term capital funding deal” on top of the approximately £5 billion received so far, which has had numerous conditions attached about how the money should be spent.
“The importance of a properly funded transport network which can offer a viable alternative to car use and can play its part in addressing the climate emergency has again been highlighted in recent weeks,” Byford stressed, along with repeating his view that “there can be no UK recovery without a London recovery and that there can be no London recovery without a properly funded transport network”.
Using Twitter, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “After two years and over £5bn of funding, I offered TfL a settlement which supports an additional £3.6 billion worth of projects & matches the Mayor’s own spending plans from 2019. This remains on the table.” A City Hall spokesperson told ITV London’s Simon Harris “it’s clear there are significant issues” that need to be settled.
The discussion are taking place in the context of a publicly fractious relationship between Shapps and London Mayor Sadiq Khan and against the backdrop of the contest to succeeded Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, after which Shapps might not remain in the job.
Having briefly entering the Tory leadership race, Shapps withdrew and backed former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who appears to be trailing foreign secretary Liz Truss, now his sole rival in the contest. Truss has been characterised as the “continuity Boris” candidate, but although Johnson appointed Shapps to the transport role, On London understands that relations between the Truss camp and Johnson loyalists are not warm.
The departure of Johnson from Number 10 might also see the end of his former media supporter Andrew Gilligan‘s time as the Prime Minister’s special adviser on transport. Gilligan is known to have been closely involved in the negotiating process between the government and TfL.
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