Sadiq Khan has confirmed he may have to close an entire Tube line if the government does not quickly come up with a financial settlement for cash-strapped Transport for London (TfL).
Khan today said any one of London’s 11 Tube lines could potentially be closed as tensions continue to flare between City Hall and Whitehall over a funding package.
It comes after TfL chiefs first warned last week that a Tube line could be closed due to the financial woes of the capital’s transport body.
TfL has had four government bailouts since the start of the pandemic, after its revenues fell off a cliff during the first lockdown, with the latest one set to run out on 11 December.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Centre for London think tank, Khan said that formal negotiations have not even started with the government over a new bailout.
“This unprecedented financial crisis facing TfL could have such far-reaching consequences,” he said.
“It won’t be long before London itself will no longer have London-style transport services. We will be forced to move into ‘managed decline’ leading to rundown services reminiscent of the 1970s and 1980s.
“This is no exaggeration. Bus services would have to be reduced by almost a fifth. Tube services would need to be cut by nearly 10 per cent. In practice this could mean over 100 bus routes being withdrawn and the full closure of a whole Tube line.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps recently criticised the mayor for trying to conduct negotiations in public and through the media.
Khan’s warning comes after ex-chancellor George Osborne yesterday called for the government to stop “trying to micromanage how [Khan] runs TfL” and to “let him take responsibility”.
Shapps’ bailouts have seen Whitehall impose a range of measures on TfL, such as putting government appointed representatives on the body’s board and raising fares.
A report from TfL earlier this month said there will be a £6.6bn black hole in its finances between 2022 and 2055, after its revenues were £1.2bn below expectations this year.
TfL warned it would need to dramatically cut services, and oversee a “managed decline” of the network, unless the government can come up with a long-term deal.