THE DELAY to the opening of the Elizabeth Line has forced Transport for London to push back by a year plans to break even on its budget.

In the latest refresh of its business plan, published in December, TfL is now targeting break-even in 2022-23. Discussing the plan at a meeting of the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee, Chief Financial Officer Simon Kilonback explained TfL predicts a step-up in revenue between 2020-21 and 2021-22, with £300 million coming from the Elizabeth Line and £200 million from the impacts of London Underground modernisation projects.

Mr Kilonback said that, with uncertainty still surrounding when the Elizabeth Line will open, TfL had made its revenue assumptions based on a number of scenarios. This would allow for a delay of up to 18 months in each of the three remaining opening stages, meaning the latest the central section would open to align with the plan would be June 2020.

With a lack of certainty regarding long-term capital funding, TfL has placed ongoing projects in four categories: critical, central, desirable and deprioritise. Critical projects relate to investment in existing assets to maintain safety and reliability, while those in the central category are most closely aligned to delivery of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. Desirable projects also align closely with the MTS, but have no certainty of capital funding, while Mr Kilonback said deprioritised projects are mostly internal ones.

Among those projects in the ‘desirable’ category is the Piccadilly Line resignalling, which was intended to take advantage of the new fleet of Siemens trains to deliver a boost to 33 or 36 trains per hour (tph). TfL Commissioner Mike Brown explained the organisation was not in a position to sign up to the £350 million contract, hence the decision to cancel the signalling procurement (p10, last month). He noted that the introduction of the new Siemens trains will enable a boost in frequency from 24 to 27tph. Other projects placed in the desirable category include the Bakerloo Line extension from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham, and Crossrail 2.

In terms of other projects, Mr Brown said the redevelopment of Holborn station has been slightly delayed but is still in TfL’s plan. Major works at Camden Town have however been deferred. Mr Brown said this plan had not been killed stone dead, but that work was ongoing; he said TfL planned to ‘keep it simmering’ but could not make a commitment until the outcome of this year’s comprehensive spending review is known.

With TfL fares currently frozen during Sadiq Khan’s mayoral term, it was confirmed at the committee that the business plan assumes this will not be maintained from the start of the next term. The assumption going forward is that fares will rise 1% faster than the rate of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation