Transport for London has revealed it will have to buy additional Elizabeth line trains in order to make up for the recently-announced delay in the High Speed 2 (HS2) route reaching Euston.
Announcing publication of its annal budget for 2023/24, TfL says the extra trains will be needed to help HS2 passengers coming to London from the West Midlands complete journeys to the centre of the city after disembarking at Old Oak Common, which will be the capital’s only HS2 station when the service starts running.
Procurement needs to begin in order to “provide extra capacity once the new Old Oak Common station opens and High Speed 2 services begin in the early 2030s,” TfL says. “They will need to use the Elizabeth line to travel to and from Central London until HS2 is extended to Euston station in the 2040s.”
TfL adds that “confirmation of government funding to cover the additional rolling stock is needed” so the trains can be ordered and built “before manufacturing production lines at Alstom’s factory in Derbyshire are demobilised. Failing to do so would mean delays and higher costs to remobilise the workforce, source materials and ensure the additional trains are ready to enter service”.
Concerns have already been expressed that the latest rescheduling of the project – which will also see the HS2 link between Birmingham and Crewe put back – with the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Central London Forward group of boroughs warning that it will only further escalate the cost of completing the line. Sadiq Khan has called for it to go ahead “without further delay“.
TfL is also asking the government to “confirm the £475 million” it says it needs in the financial year 2024/25 “to support the delivery of the committed contracts for rolling stock and signalling on the Piccadilly line and the DLR [Docklands Light Railway],” arguing that “failure to do this well in advance of March 2024 would force TfL to have to reprioritise its Business Plan”.
The current funding agreement with the government is due to expire in March 2024. It was secured at the end of last August last year after intense negotiations and following a series of shorter-term deals with many conditions attached after the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic created a catastrophic loss of fares income for TfL.
“The government has consistently recognised in the funding settlements that that TfL is not expected to fund major capital projects from its operating incomes,” TfL says. “This is consistent with other transport authorities”.
The transport authority’s overall message about its budget is upbeat, emphasising that it anticipates achieving an operating service in 2023/24 “with revenues covering the costs of the existing transport network” with £9.1 billion coming in compared with expected operating costs of £7.9 billion and an “overall operating surplus of £79 million”.
This underpins an expectation of achieving “financial sustainability” and making continuing investments in new trains for the DLR and Piccadilly line, “greener and more accessible stations” and road redesigns for cyclists.
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