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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

TfL set to deliver operating surplus

Transport for London has announced its latest budget shows that it will achieve an operating surplus in 2023/24, with revenues covering the costs of the existing transport network.

This means TfL is expected to achieve financial sustainability and delivering transport improvements across the whole of London.

Across the next financial year, TfL’s £9.1bn in revenue will cover its expected £7.9bn operating costs – which cover the operational running of TfL services in London – £745m in capital renewals and £417m in net interest costs that it will accrue.

This will mean that TfL will achieve an overall operating surplus of £79m, which will then be reinvested directly into enhancements across the transport network as part of TfL’s wider £2bn capital programme as outlined in its Business Plan, with any government funding in 2023/24 allocated to fund capital investments across the network. The budget also outlines how with continued government support for capital improvements, a wide range of schemes benefitting the whole of London can be delivered in the coming years.

Since 2016, TfL says it has saved £1.1 billion from its annual operating costs, and it is currently working on the delivery of £600m in further savings commitments as set out in its Business Plan. It has also worked hard to maintain a safe, affordable, reliable and frequent transport network throughout and after the pandemic.

Ridership on TfL’s bus, Tube and rail network continues to grow, with more than three million Tube journeys and around five million bus journeys made on weekdays. Ridership at weekends is now at or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. The Elizabeth line also continues to exceed predicted ridership levels, with around 600,000 journeys every weekday taking place across the whole line. While there remains a high level of uncertainty about future ridership levels, TfL’s latest assessment assumes that, by the end of 2023/24, ridership on TfL services will have grown by a further seven per cent compared to levels seen currently.

During 2023/24, the TfL Budget will ensure the delivery of a number of schemes to improve London for everyone, especially in outer London boroughs where car usage is higher. These include:

  • Improving the bus network in outer London with more than one million extra kilometres of bus services with new and extended bus routes in Sutton, Croydon, Havering and Brent, as well as converting more of London’s buses to zero emission to help improve London’s toxic air.

  • The first of 54 new, state-of-the-art trains on the Docklands Light Railway that promise to provide thousands of customers with more frequent, reliable and comfortable journeys from 2024, with all new trains in service by 2026.

  • Progressing work to replace the 1970s-built Piccadilly line trains with a new fleet with walk-through carriages and air-conditioning. The first train remains on track to be ready to start testing from summer 2023, with the first new trains set to enter passenger service in 2025.

  • Expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone across all London boroughs from 29 August 2023, to tackle the triple challenges of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion, and to ensure five million more Londoners can breathe cleaner air. A £110m scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities and small businesses and sole traders remains open help those with non-compliant vehicles to scrap and replace their vehicles. 

  • Introducing the full peak timetable in May 2023 on the Elizabeth line, at which point the peak time frequency will increase to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel (a train every 2.5 minutes) in each direction, with 16 trains per hour running during off-peak. Direct services from Shenfield to Heathrow Airport will also commence, providing direct connectivity between east and west for the first time.

  • Ensuring TfL is the strong green heartbeat of the city by making its services more sustainable through more zero-emission buses, upgrading LED lights in Tube stations and across the road network to reduce energy consumption, as well as implementing more sustainable drainage across the road network.

  • Improving accessibility across London to ensure that the network is as accessible as possible. The launch of the Elizabeth line in May 2022 transformed TfL’s approach to accessibility and TfL is working to make further improvements to its trains and stations in 2023/24, including the completion of step-free schemes at Knightsbridge and the Bakerloo line at Paddington. TfL’s business plan includes approximately £20m of funding per annum focused on improving accessibility across the wider transport network and TfL hopes to provide an update on accessibility schemes, including future step-free works on the Tube, in the coming months.

  • Building on the 14.6km of cycle routes that TfL and boroughs have delivered since April last year, with further improvements to cycling routes across London. This will mean at least a further 39km of new or upgraded cycle routes will be delivered over the next 18 months. In addition, work on walking and cycling improvements at Lea Bridge roundabout in Hackney, Streatham High Road in Lambeth and Manor Circus in Richmond will be carried out to help encourage more people to switch to active travel, particularly in outer London. TfL’s safer junctions programme will also continue to reduce collisions and improve road safety for all users.

  • Completing tunnelling works and associated road changes for the Silvertown Tunnel, which will provide new public-transport options across the river and reduce congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel when it opens in 2025.

The 2023/24 budget has been developed on the assumption that the current funding agreement with Government, which lasts until April 2024, remains in place and is fully honoured, including in relation to adjusting the quantum of support provided to TfL in 2023/24 to reflect latest inflation rates.

While TfL has a current funding agreement with the Government until the end of March 2024, there is also a pressing need for the Government to confirm the £475m that TfL needs in 2024/25 to support the delivery of the committed contracts for rolling stock and signalling on the Piccadilly line and the DLR.

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