Rail fares rise defended

Mayor claims victory in ‘killing off’ proposals in £1.8bn TfL bailout

Mayor claims victory in ‘killing off’ Government proposals in £1.8bn TfL bailout

Sadiq Khan claims he succeeded in “killing off the very worst Government proposals” as Transport for London (TfL) secured a £1.8 billion bailout.

The London mayor said it is “not a perfect deal”, but insisted he “fought hard to get to the best possible place”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described the agreement as “fair to taxpayers across the country”.

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TfL’s finances have taken a severe hit from the collapse in fare revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month Boris Johnson claimed TfL was “effectively bankrupted” before the virus crisis, and proposals to hike charges were “entirely the responsibility” of Mr Khan.

The bailout secures the running of public transport in the capital until March 2021.

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Mr Khan said the Government had wanted TfL to introduce a series of “ill-advised and draconian” measures in return for the financial package.

These included extending the Congestion Charge zone to the North and South Circular roads, scrapping free travel for older and younger Londoners, and raising fares by more than previously agreed.

“I am determined that none of this will now happen, Mr Khan said.

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“I am pleased that we have succeeded in killing off the very worst Government proposals.

“The only reason TfL needs Government support is because almost all our fares income has dried up since March as Londoners have done the right thing.”

The exact amount of money involved in the package is subject to passenger revenue in the coming months, but is expected to reach around £1.8 billion in grants and loans.

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TfL will carry out cost savings to make up a remaining £160 million “gap” based on its forecasts.

‘Sustainable settlement for TfL’

Responding to the Transport for London bailout, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This deal is proof of our commitment to supporting London and the transport network on which it depends.“Just as we’ve done for the national rail operators, we’ll make up the fare income which TfL is losing due to Covid.

“Londoners making essential trips will continue to be able to use Tubes, buses and other TfL services thanks to this Government funding. At the same time, the agreement is fair to taxpayers across the country.

“The Mayor has pledged that national taxpayers will not pay for benefits for Londoners that they do not get themselves elsewhere in the country.

“Over the coming months, as we look to move beyond the pandemic, I look forward to working with London’s representatives to achieve a long-term settlement, with London given more control over key taxes so it can pay more costs of the transport network itself.

“This agreement marks the first step towards that, potentially allowing a longer-term, sustainable settlement for TfL when the course of the pandemic becomes clearer.”

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt