Friday 4 June 2021 8:33 am

TfL funding uncertainty puts vital HS2 link 'at risk'

Vital London transport projects, including a new rail branch deemed vital to the success of HS2, may have to be mothballed due to continued uncertainty over Transport for London’s future funding.

Earlier this week the government gave the transport network yet another short-term deal, worth around £1.1bn, much to TfL’s dismay.

But now a new report from the body has flagged a number of projects that could be in jeopardy due to the lack of a long-term deal.

Principal among these, the Telegraph reported, is the West London Orbital, a rail line running from Hounslow to Hampstead.

The line would connect with the new HS2 mega-hub at Old Oak Common, which is currently under construction, linking the station to west London.

In the report, called “Delivering the Mayor’s Transport Strategy 2020/21”, TfL officials say that the line would “unlock potential for new homes and jobs, and connecting to town centres, employment hubs and existing and future transport links to London Underground, London Overground, Elizabeth line [Crossrail], National Rail and High Speed 2 interchanges.”

But, it adds, “the future development of these schemes, and the benefits they enable, is contingent on the outcome of discussions with the Government on longer-term funding.” 

The latest funding deal, which will cover the period from 29 May until 11 December, came after months of difficult negotiations between both sides.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the new agreement was “not the deal we wanted”.

It means that the government has now spent more than £4bn keeping the network going.

TfL had been seeking a multi-year funding deal, saying it would need £3bn in operational support for the next year, as well as £1.6bn a year in capital spending support between 2023 and 2030.

The report also said the the Docklands Light Rail extension could also be shelved, while the Bakerloo extension and Crossrail 2 have already been shelved.

A spokesman for Transport for London said: “We continue to work with the Government on our longer term funding so we can plan effectively for London’s future.

“We are delivering transformative additions and enhancements across the transport network, such as completing the Elizabeth line, the Northern Line Extension, the extension of London Overground to Barking Riverside, new signalling on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, and the Bank Station Upgrade.

“Our Financial Sustainability Plan, published in January this year, sets out what we need to deliver and outlines how long-term funding certainty will enable us to deliver these economically and efficiently.

“However, the development of new major projects, which are vital for decarbonisation, improving air quality and supporting new homes and jobs, is reliant on the outcome of discussions over our longer term funding.”