Crossrail and Tube spared from savings

MAYOR of London Boris Johnson yesterday painted the chancellor’s decision to protect the capital’s major transport funding as a triumph, upholding London’s competitiveness as a major economic hub at a time when tax and regulatory changes are hammering the city.

Johnson, who has fought a long campaign over the importance of investment in London’s infrastructure, said both the Crossrail project and major upgrades to the Tube have been given the go-ahead, providing a £78bn fillip to the economy.

Funding to Transport for London (TfL) from the Department for Transport (DfT) will fall by £2.17bn over the four years of the Spending Review, equivalent to a real-terms cut of 21 per cent. But DfT funds represent only a third of TfL’s budget, alongside fares, borrowing and commercial revenue – meaning the cut to the organisation’s total funding will be around eight per cent.

Crossrail’s budget has been slashed by £1bn, meaning that delivery of the project will be delayed by a year to 2018 while efficiencies are found. But it will be delivered in full, including branches off to Heathrow, Maidenhead and other out-of-London destinations, the Mayor said.

The Tube upgrade, which with Crossrail will boost network capacity by 30 per cent, is also going ahead, though “cosmetic improvements” to Tube stations have been axed.

Concessions have also been protected on the London bus network, with fare increases kept at the level announced at the end of last year.

But Johnson conceded that the pain would be felt via a rise in the congestion charge to £10, a reduction in spending on electric vehicles, charging for parking on the TfL road network and a cut in the funding allocation to London boroughs.

Tfl, which has already realised £5bn of savings, will also be subjected to a structural review led by transport commissioner Peter Hendy, who will report early next year on how to deliver further efficiency savings.