The drip-feed of extensions to TfL’s funding from the government to keep transport running in London has been extended yet again after negotiations were unable to agree a formal settlement by today’s deadline.

In a statement this morning, TfL says that discussions with the Department for Transport (DfT) in relation to its future funding requirements are ongoing and that TfL remains in a position to meet its operational and contractual obligations in the near term, whilst discussions conclude.

On 25 February 2022 TfL announced that a funding and financing package had been agreed between TfL and the Department for Transport to support transport services in London for the period from 26 February 2022 to 24 June 2022. This followed on from the package announced on 1 June 2021, which was subsequently extended to 25 February 2022.

TfL added that it continues to discuss funding requirements with DfT for the period beyond 24 June 2022 and said that it will provide an update in due course.

This morning’s confirmation that the negotiations were unable to agree to a funding deal before todays’s deadline follows an acrimonious war of words late last night between the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps with both accusing the other of leaking an early draft of a letter accusing the Mayor of London of misrepresenting the planned cuts to London’s bus services.

The early draft also said that the funding deal hadn’t been settled and that an extension for another couple of weeks was needed. However, that was leaked before it had been signed off, and an official letter published later in the evening had removed the details about the funding agreement, replacing it with a section accusing the Mayor of London’s office of leaking details before they were confirmed.

In the letter, Grant Shapps accused the Mayor of having “prematurely announced details of an extension before it was finalised with the department – is just the latest example of your desire to play politics, rather than working constructively with us”

However, the Mayor responded on Twitter accusing the DfT of leaking the letter to the media before sending it to him.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of verbal mud-slinging that I wrote about recently that is holding London to ransom with both sides publically accusing the other of leaking letters and not negotiating in good faith. By all accounts, the discussions behind closed doors between officials are demanding but cordial, which is hopeful for a settlement that is good for London and the country.

Slightly worrying, if reading between the lines, is the sentence that the DfT remains “open to giving you a longer-term
capital settlement”, whereas it had been suggested in a GLA public meeting a few months back that a capital settlement was close to being agreed, and the negotiations were now more about the operational cost of keeping public transport running while it adapts to the post-pandemic world.

But the political rhetoric is putting a sensible funding settlement at risk, with both sides needing to win the war of words, even if it leaves both sides badly damaged.

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6 comments
  1. NG says:

    All part of the tories divide-&-rule agenda, along with “Levelling-Up” ( Depositing all over London in reality ) &, of course, dragging the agony out as long as possible in the hope that people will fall for their line that,somehow, it’s all Khan’s fault.

    Very much in line with your earlier article, of course.

  2. MK says:

    Given the govts openly stated hostility to London and the mayoralty and the GLA I can’t even imagine what a complaint Khan would or could even look like.

  3. LMonroe says:

    Shapps must impose the severest conditionality on any new bailout. TfL must be forced to slash salaries, jobs, pensions – and make massive steps forward towards automation – none of this business plan nonsense, but concrete plans to prioritise automation above all other capital investment.

    Any cuts to services must be met with severe financial penalties to prevent Khan from gaining political capital by making high-profile ‘sacrifices’.

    I’m fed up of Shapps always giving in to the extension demands by Khan and his lapdog Byford. He needs to show that he has the guts to take on the sneering transport blob.

    Travel habits have fundamentally changed, and will remain changed for the foreseeable future. The extra journeys and revenue won’t suddenly come back. TfL need to be put back in their lane and be forced to cut their cloth accordingly.

    • nickrl says:

      TfL have done more than National Rail to attempt to right size the organisation and resources so deserve some additional support. However, your absolutely right, and this applies to any transport operator that was built for the rush hour its going to have to right size itself. Mind you we’ve been told for years how expensive it is to operate the high peak so perhaps in the round this will result in a more cost effective railway which is more reliable.

    • TP says:

      The economics of driverless trains on the underground don’t add up. The technology to make it happen doesn’t exist, because the age of the underground means the technology you would install on a new railway doesn’t work well on the underground. Achieving full automation would require platform edge door at every station, and an emergency walkway down every tunnel. If you think widening every tube tunnel to fit a walkway is gonna be cheap and easy, then I’ve got bridge to sell you. Even Boris Johnson during his time a major admitted that pushing for automation didn’t make sense, no that you would catch him dead saying it now.

      London reconnection did an excellent article going to depth on the costs and benefits of automation.

      https://www.londonreconnections.com/2021/the-political-myth-of-the-driverless-tube-train/

      It’s also worth mentioning that TfL and local councils are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all London roads, with zero money from central government, and has been for years. The UK government gives out billions each year to councils for road maintenance and building, but not to London. TfL has to pay for London roads from ticket fairs and adverts.

      Overall London contributes three times more money to the tax pot, than it takes out, to the tune of £25-£40bil extra each year for at least a decade. Yet despite London contributing over £250billion more into the pot than it takes over the last 10 years, asking for a few billion to keep the capitals transport running appears to be too much.

    • ChrisC says:

      Change the record.

      Your only response to these issues is cut staff and cut salaries and cut pensions.

      How about coming up with some proper solutions?

      Automation isn’t the panacea you and others seem to think it is. It’s expensive (where is the cash coming from to fund that) and disruptive to install.

      If it was that easy when ehy didn’t Boris do anything about it during his 8 years as Mayor?

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