Andrew Gilligan, the capital’s former cycling commissioner and now transport advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has been named as one of the Government’s two ‘Special Representatives’ on the Transport for London board.
Gilligan held the cycling brief during Johnson’s second term at City Hall and was responsible for leading on the design and construction of the capital’s new cycling infrastructure. He was named as part of Johnson’s Downing Street team last summer.
He’ll be joined by former Department for Transport official Clare Moriarty, who also served as Director General at the Rail Executive as well as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Both will attend the TfL Board and be able to attend its Finance and Programme Investment Committees.
Ministers insisted on the creation of the new posts as a condition of the £1.6bn emergency funding package agreed between the DfT, City Hall and TfL.
Other conditions imposed as part of the deal include the raising of fares across TfL services, the suspension of some concessionary travel passes and a wide-ranging review into TfL’s funding and business model. Collectively the conditions mark a significant loosening of City Hall’s control over TfL.
On Monday Transport secretary Grant Shapps published the review’s terms of reference.
Simon Kilonback, Chief Finance Officer at TfL, insisted that the agency’s financial position was “strong” prior to the coronavirus outbreak and said the agency had reduced its operating deficit “from £1.5 billion in 2016 to £0.2 billion this year, and were on track to turn this into a surplus by 2022/23.”
He added: “This enabled us to build cash reserves of more than £2 billion, which helped us continue to deliver services for nearly three months at the start of the pandemic before we received any government support.
“Whilst our own financial performance has been strong, we have suffered from a lack of any long term certainty for funding vital investment going forward. The coronavirus pandemic has made this more acute.
“We will be fully supporting and engaging in this review, and will set out our strong record of delivering efficiencies across our business and delivering the vital services London needs to function.”
Despite an increasingly bitter row between the government and supporters of the mayor over the terms of the rescue package, passenger watchdog TravelWatch said it “welcomes this review, as passengers need reassurance and confidence in the long term sustainability of the transport network in London.”
Director of Policy Tim Bellenger added: “This review must ensure that consumers interests are maintained and at the forefront of decisions being made for them.
“London TravelWatch welcomes the opportunity to work with the review to see that passengers interests’ are protected.”
However the review has provoked an angry response from the RMT union after ministers said it would look at “workforce modernisation, and exploring the feasibility of extending driverless operation from the DLR to other lines which are already automatic.”
RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is utterly disgraceful that the government’s response to the heroic efforts of thousands of key tube workers who are risking their lives to keep London moving during the Covid-19 epidemic is to now threaten tube privatisation and driverless trains.
“This not just a serious threat to safety and services it is the government using the tube as a political football and engaging in political point scoring in advance of the Mayoral elections.
“Make no mistake if the government attempt to proceed with these plans there will be the mother of all battles including the option of all out strike action.”