TfL Achieves £138m Operating Surplus Amid Decrease in Network Investment And Canary Wharf Fire Saftey Contract Awarded

June 6, 2024

Transport for London (TfL) reported an operating surplus of £138 million in the last financial year, despite a notable drop in investment due to a lack of government funding. The financial report, which covers March 2023 to April 2024, revealed that capital enhancement spending fell from £1.36 billion to £1.25 billion year-on-year. This period marks the first time TfL has operated without Covid-era grant funding from the government.

The reduction in investment occurred even though there was a “significant growth” in passenger journeys on the Tube and rail, with the Elizabeth Line seeing 700,000 journeys per weekday. Passenger income increased by nearly £300 million compared to 2022/23. However, the recovery of journey numbers to 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels hasn’t completely alleviated TfL’s financial challenges, as the body has relied on over £6 billion in government bailouts since 2019. An additional £250 million was received in December, but TfL continues to seek a long-term capital funding settlement from the government.

In May, key advisers from the National Infrastructure Commission warned that the £250 million injection was merely a “sticking plaster” and insufficient for long-term needs. Despite the operating surplus, TfL insists it needs further funding for crucial upgrades across its network. For instance, trains on the Bakerloo Line, which are over 50 years old, are well past their intended use date, raising concerns about potential “critical failure.” Additionally, the Central Line has been forced to run an emergency timetable due to a shortage of trains for peak service. Larger projects, such as the £30-40 billion Crossrail 2, remain on hold until funding issues are addressed.

On a positive note, TfL reported an almost £300 million increase in investment in major rolling stock and signalling projects, with £90 million allocated to DLR trains. However, the organization has also had to increase short-term borrowing to manage cash and liquidity issues. Of the government’s £250 million funding package, £245 million has been delivered, helping to defer some borrowing into 2024/25.

In related news, TfL awarded a contract to Telent to upgrade fire safety capabilities at the Canary Wharf Elizabeth Line station. Opened in 2022, Canary Wharf is one of the largest and most popular stations on the Elizabeth Line, linking it to the National Rail network. Telent will work with Rail for London Infrastructure (RfLI) to enhance the existing fire detection and alarm system, removing redundant elements and simplifying the configuration for improved user-friendliness.

Reg Cook, Telent’s Director of Asset Management, stated, “This is a really exciting opportunity for Telent to demonstrate to TfL our capability in fire safety maintenance, apply our expertise and experience of working on the Elizabeth Line, and grow our extensive relationship with TfL even further. We’re proud to have made good progress on the project so far and look forward to developing our fire business further with TfL.”

The project aims to simplify future upgrades and maintenance by decommissioning unnecessary third-party interfaces. Telent has a history of work on the Elizabeth Line, including a contract extension in 2020 to maintain CCTV across the network and support the Driver Only Operation (DOO) CCTV system, ensuring safe departures from station platforms.