Sadiq Khan issues grubby set of throwback photos of London Underground amid funding warning
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today released a set of throwback photos showing the sorry state of the tube network in previous decades as he warned that without urgent Government investment the transport network could see significant cuts.
The images included a dismal shot of one of the platforms at Shepherd’s Bush tube station in West London in 1980 and another of a graffiti-covered corridor at King’s Cross in 1987.
A third image in black and white showed glum-looking passengers getting off a run-down train at Tottenham Court Road in 1990, whilst a train at a deserted Ongar in a fourth image was also seen covered with graffiti.
The images were released today after Transport for London Commissioner Andy Byford said last night that ‘without meaningful sustained investment we will see a damaging vicious circle of underinvestment and service cuts, dragging London back to the 1970s and ’80s era of an ageing, infrequent and unreliable transport network.’
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Khan warned that bus services could be reduced by a fifth and tube services by almost 10 per cent unless the Government steps in with an injection of funds.
A report to City Hall’s finance committee detailed worse-than-expected impacts on the transport network from the Covid-19 pandemic, and with Transport for London’s (TfL) emergency funding deal coming to a close next month.
The warnings of a ‘managed decline’ come just three months after Mr Khan launched Transport for London’s biggest advertising campaign in nearly a decade in July as he desperately tried to attract people back to the capital following the coronavirus lockdown.
The ‘Welcome back London’ advertising blitz included the tag line ‘Tube It. Bus it. Train it.’, whilst adapted TfL ’roundel’ symbols at 16 key Tube, Overground and Docklands Light Railway stations were also released.
They included ‘Going Out Out’ in Brixton, ‘Retail Therapy’ in Shepherds Bush, ‘Best Day Ever’ in Gloucester Road and ‘Opening Night’ in Leicester Square.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today released a set of throwback photos showing the sorry state of the tube network in previous decades as he warned that without urgent Government investment the transport network could see significant cuts. The images included a dismal shot of one of the platforms at Shepherd’s Bush tube station in West London in 1980
The images were released by the Mayor’s office after Mr Khan warned of the consequences if Transport for London does not get more funding from the Government. Pictured: A graffiti-covered corridor at King’s Cross in 1987
‘Transport for London is dealing with an unprecedented financial crisis caused by the pandemic,’ Mr Khan said in a statement today.
‘We are now less than a month away from TfL’s emergency funding deal expiring on 11 December.
‘Unless the Government provides the long-term funding needed to maintain our public transport network, there will be no choice but to make significant cuts to services just as demand is growing again.
‘This would mean fewer, less frequent and more run-down bus and tube services for Londoners, making it more difficult to travel around the city.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Khan warned that bus services could be reduced by a fifth and tube services by almost 10 per cent unless the Government pumps more money into the transport network
A third image released by Mr Khan’s office showed glum-looking passengers getting on and off a run-down train at Tottenham Court Road in 1990. Graffiti is visible on the side of the train and the walls are free of adverts and in need of a paint job
The final image released by the Mayor’s office showed a train covered in graffiti whilst waiting at a deserted platform at Ongar station in Essex in the 1980s. The station was on the Central Line until 1994 but is no longer part of the Underground network
‘It would also mean more road and tunnel closures due to a lack of funding to maintain key transport infrastructure.
‘The widespread disruption and gridlock all these changes would cause would not only unfairly punish millions of Londoners for the impact of the pandemic on TfL’s finances, but would put the national economic recovery at risk.’
The Labour mayor said while he supported the Government’s transport investments across the country for the cause of levelling up, this should not come at the cost of ‘levelling down London’.
‘There can be no London recovery without a properly funded public transport network in the capital, and there can be no national recovery without a London recovery,’ he said.
Passenger numbers have still not got back to pre-pandemic levels – with the Tube worst-hit. Mr Khan said on Thursday that he would have ‘no choice’ but to cut services unless the Government invests more money
‘Our city contributes £36.1billion net to the Treasury each year. TfL contracts contribute around £7billion to the UK economy, and its supply chain supports 43,000 jobs around the country, which could be at risk.
‘If the Government fails to work with us to protect London’s transport network, the capital and the whole country will pay the price for decades to come.’
The TfL Finance Committee’s report to City Hall details reductions of more than £1 billion in annual running costs over the past five years but says more savings will be needed because of the projected £1.9billion funding gap.
This would mean a move to a ‘managed decline’ scenario, the report says, requiring at least an 18 per cent reduction in bus services and a 9 per cent cut to tube services.
The Labour mayor said while he supported the Government’s transport investments across the country for the cause of levelling up, this should not come at the cost of ‘levelling down London. Above: London commuters wait for an Underground train at Westminster station in July
Mr Khan’s statement came after London’s Transport Commissioner Mr Byford issued his warning last night.
Mr Byford added today: ‘There is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery and there is no London recovery without a properly funded transport network in the capital.
‘During the pandemic our staff have worked tirelessly to keep services running and demand for public transport in London continues to recover and grow, with demand now regularly hitting 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
‘The Government is investing in better transport around the country, which we welcome, and TfL is ready to help the Government address challenges beyond the capital.
‘But a failure to provide stability and certainty for TfL means that we are now on the brink of entering a period of the managed decline of transport in London.’
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: ‘It’s frankly disgusting that Boris Johnson is playing Russian roulette with the future of public transport in London.
‘We understand that with just a few short weeks left of the current financial support package from the Government, no discussions are planned about the additional money TfL needs to keep services running, as passenger numbers have yet to recover from pre-pandemic levels.
‘Johnson may talk a good game when it comes to dealing with the challenges of climate change but failing to adequately fund public transport shows that his decarbonisation credentials are yet more hot air.
‘The Government must step up to the plate before TfL services start grinding to a halt.’
This graph shows the split in journeys between types of station on the TfL network since 2020
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: ‘It is clear that the Government-driven wrecking ball would reduce transport in London to rubble. We will fight that assault with every tool at our disposal if ministers don’t wake up and see sense.
‘We are calling on the mayor and the people of London to stand with the transport workforce in a campaign to secure the funding our services need.
‘It would be a scandal if Covid was used as a cover to drive through an unprecedented cuts package when we need to be building back for the future.’
Emma Gibson, director of London TravelWatch, told MailOnline today: ‘Millions of people rely on London’s buses and Tubes every day, and maintaining a high frequency service will be an important factor in London’s recovery.
‘Research shows that when you cut the frequency of buses and Tubes, fewer people use them, which in turn leads to less income to fund the services which you do run.
‘Fewer people using public transport also means more people using their cars, which is a problem for congestion; air pollution and climate change.
‘A fully laden bus can take up to 75 cars off the road, which is a win-win for everyone.’