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Fears TFL could cut Bakerloo Line to save cash

The 115-year-old Bakerloo Line is at risk of being closed by TFL, some have speculated.

Fears come after Transport for London’s finance chief, Simon Kilonbeck, said last week that the tube network may have to be scaled back by 9 per cent in order to plug a £1.9bn funding gap – with the possibility of closing an entire tube line to do so.

“We would have to reduce tube network by nine per cent and the bus network by 18 per cent,” Mr Kilonbeck told the TFL finance committee on Wednesday.

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“On the bus network in practice, this means over 100 routes being withdrawn and on the remaining routes 200 would have service frequency reductions.

“For the tube network, we’re still analysing the impacts, for example of a full closure of a line or part of a line or smaller reductions across the whole network.”

TFL has failed to secure government funding for long-term repairs and upgrades, leaving it to plug a billion-pound gap with major cuts to services after its emergency funding deal ends next week.

There has been no official comment from either TFL or the Mayor of London on which tube lines could potentially be scaled back.

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The Daily Mail speculates that the Bakerloo Line could be the one to go, due to its lower volume of passengers and the fact that plans to improve the line were put on pause earlier this year, while sources told the Evening Standard that the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines were all at risk of service reductions.

These predictions come despite previous major plans to extend the Bakerloo Line, connecting its southern end at Elephant and Castle to New Cross Gate and Lewisham in southeast London.

The £3.1bn plans for an extension were put on hold indefinitely in March 2021, in an announcement by TFL commissioner Andy Byford.

The proposed extension to the Bakerloo line

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(Lewisham Council)

However, as recently as early November, TFL’s Engineering Consultancy Framework was asking designers and engineers to start work on designs for a tunnel for the new extension.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement last month: “Transport for London is dealing with an unprecedented financial crisis caused by the pandemic.

“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.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “The national economic recovery from the pandemic is dependent on a London recovery, which relies on a properly funded transport network in the capital.

“We are eager to work in partnership with the Government to safeguard the recovery and to agree a longer-term funding deal as we work towards achieving financial sustainability by April 2023.

“No decisions have yet been made about specific lines or services.”

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