Business groups welcome Transport for London's budget and business plan while Zac Goldsmith says it shows Sadiq Khan's policy would leave London transport with £1.9bn black hole

 
James Nickerson
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The Queen Visits The Crossrail Station Site At Bond Street
The Elizabeth Line will open in 2018 (Source: Getty)

Business groups have welcomed the new budget and business plan from Transport for London, which set out improvements including the continuing construction of Crossrail.

The budget plan also outlined developments including extensions and modernisations to a number of Tube lines and reasserted the importance of the Night Tube, as well as ​drawing attention to a range of road improvements that are being considered, including further cycle roots and superhighways.

“Our transport system is carrying half a billion more people than four years ago, whilst doing so more efficiently, reliably and safely - and with greater customer satisfaction – than at any other time in London’s history," Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.

He added: "Delays on the Underground have been halved, we’ve introduced 191 British-made new air-conditioned trains, cycling is at a record high, transport crime at a record low and the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads has been cut by 40 per cent."

The ambitions were welcomed by the Institute of Directors, who said that big infrastructure projects are needed in London, and encouraged TfL and unions to unlock the potential of London's 24/7 economy.

Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure adviser, said: “London has the scale, economic and population growth to demand big infrastructure projects from central government."

Read more: Here's how much house prices have risen along the Elizabeth Line since building started

"With up to four million more people expected by 2050, the capital will soon grind to a halt without the transport capacity to match. It may grow even faster than expected. 15 years ago, there was concern about how to find space for an extra 700,000 people but we ended up with 1.5 million more.

"Infrastructure is crucial to London’s success, and here, TfL needs help from national government," he added.

The CBI echoed Lewis' enthusiasm, with a spokesperson having said: “As London grows, it’s vital there is continued and sustained investment in the city’s transport infrastructure. This will give Londoners and those who work in the capital higher quality, and more reliable, transport links.”

However, Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith said that the budget showed the his rival Sadiq Khan's plan to freeze fares for four years would cost £1.9bn.

According to the TfL accounts, the budgeted fares revenue for the current year 2015-16 is £4.6bn, rising to £6.6bn by 2020-21.

Goldsmith said: "These new figures from TfL are conclusive proof that Khan's experimental policies would leave London's transport system with a £1.9bn black hole. It would decimate investment and make Crossrail 2 impossible or hit Londoners in their pockets with council tax rises.

"London's economy is too important to risk the extra overcrowding and longer waits that would come from the Khan - Corbyn experiment in City Hall," he added.

Read more: Transport for London rezoning the Tube map

But Khan hit back, saying "as Mayor I will put an end to years of Tory fare hikes by freezing fares for four years, so Londoners won’t pay a penny more in 2020 than they do now.

“I have a comprehensive plan to pay for my fares freeze by cutting waste and creating new sources of income– the head of TfL said just last week that my plans will not damage investment or improvements.

“Zac Goldsmith must come clean with Londoners that he’ll hike their fares by 17 per cent over the next four years – costing Londoners up to £1,000 more," he added.

A range of measures to improve air quality, including the creation of an Ultra Low Emission Zone are also being progressed in the budget.

The budget also leant its support to the National Infrastructure Commission's conclusion that Crossrail 2 is absolutely vital to meeting the needs of London’s population.

Meanwhile, TfL is also identifying value engineering options on new investment projects and targeting programme cost reductions of 10 per cent through better cost management.

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