Funding the Tube

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The Guardian ran an excellent article yesterday, outlining the cuts which TfL was making across the transport network in order to plug the hole left by the collapse of Metronet:

"Transport for London has narrowed the tube funding gap by £2.5bn after deferring upgrade work, cutting 1,000 jobs and rewriting engineering contracts.

"The cost saving, to be revealed on Wednesday, is a significant step towards solving a financial crisis that has threatened to damage the administration of the London mayor, Boris Johnson.

"Under the new budget plan for three-quarters of the tube network, £800m will be saved by postponing improvements to 50 stations and pushing back plans to launch more frequent services on the Bakerloo Line to 2020. A further £1bn will be cut by 1,000 previously announced redundancies, supplemented by a £500m saving on new terms with suppliers and a further £200m cost reduction from carrying out some projects more efficiently."

Whilst the Mayor and TfL must still address the (£1bn +) funding gap over the cost of maintenance by Tube Lines, this is a significant step in the right direction by administration officials and, notably, safeguards CrossRail funding.

Still, the cuts outlined above have not received universal acclaim - the RMT have already held a 48hr strike based on TfL's proposed programme and talks are underway to prevent another walkout.

It's a difficult position to be in, and it will take all of the TfL & the Mayor's diplomatic skills to keep key players on side. After the war of words during the last strike, we hope that both sides can be somewhat more mature in negotiations this time around.

PS - The Guardian this weekend also carried an interview with Bob Crow, the General Secretary of the RMT - he's in a fighting mood.

UPDATE: London Reconnections has their take on the funding gap here.