Tube bosses have been accused of “playing politics with passenger safety” after a Freedom of Information request revealed that spending on track maintenance and replacement is being cut back.
The figures, published last week, show that average monthly spend is set to fall from around £17m during Boris Johnson’s last two years at City Hall to an actual and projected £11m average during Sadiq Khan’s first 2 years as Mayor.
In its FOI response, London Underground claimed the reduced spending was due to the installation of “more robust track assets” which have “a reduced maintenance requirement due to less failure modes.”
It added: “This has supported the transition from a reactive to preventative maintenance approach, resulting in a lower overall cost to maintain the assets.”
However Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of the TSSA union, says the planned cuts amount to a “lack of investment”.
In an email to members sent last Friday, he wrote: “I know it’s Friday the 13th today, but I wasn’t expecting to be frightened by reading Transport for London’s (TfL) investment plans. Or lack of investment, as it appears TfL are planning to cut corners on track maintenance and repairs.
“It’s eye-wateringly short sighted to rob Peter to pay Paul on our railways or Tube. I thought I’d said goodbye to this kind of playing politics with passenger safety when Boris left office.”
Mr Cortes’s comments follow claims by Conservatives on the London Assembly that Mr Khan’s decision to freeze fares for the next four years, “blew a £640million hole in TfL’s budget” and has “led to the tightening of budgets across TfL”.