Transport for London

Not just Managing Londonís Railways...

Back in 1997, in a response to Government proposals to create a Greater London Authority, London Transport called for a joined up approach to transport in an ever

increasingly congested capital. It wanted a ĎLondon Transport Authorityí that would control fares, manage marketing, co-ordinated passenger information systems as well as control over London road network.  In effect an organisation that would manage all public transportation within the Greater London Area. It cited the example of Crossrail as a venture that needed greater co-operation between agencies if it were to ever happen.

Someone in power apparently listened as since its its inception in 2000, TfL has, in addition to its role of looking after London Underground, been performing a varied number of roles, managing:

  • River Bus
  • Londonís bus network (including Victoria coach station)
  • Tramlink
  • London Transport Museum
  • Congestion charge scheme
  • Regulation of taxis
  • Cycle Hire scheme
  • Roads & traffic signals
  • The Crossrail project/construction
  • Initiatives (e.g. the Transport Operational Command, a partnership with the Metropolitan Police to reduce crime and illegal activity)

Probably its most challenging role though, is to oversee the upgrading of Londonís transport network, so that it meets the ever increasing capacity demands in the future. In the year 2009/10 more than 1.065 billion passenger journeys were made on the Underground. Although this may have been a figure that was 2.3% down on the previous year (perhaps the recession had played a part in this), it was still the forth consecutive year when passenger journeys made had been above the 1 billion threshold.


In hindsight it seems obvious that the Public Private Partnership was destined to fail. The then Mayor of London (Ken Livingstone), TfL and railway unions were unanimously against in introduction of PPP in the first place, although possibly for different reasons. It was however Tony Blairís administration, that forced the scheme through.

Initially though, when the whole concept was being developed, there were three different proposals on the table how London Underground could be privatised:

  • Sell LU as an entire business
  • Breaking up LU in a similar manner to BR (different companies maintaining lines, TOCs running train services etc.)
  • Franchising of integrated lines under one company that would be responsible for stations, track and trains

The franchising option was chosen with the Underground being carved up into three sections:

  1. Metronet: Bakerloo, Central, Victoria and Waterloo & City Lines
  2. Metronet: the sub-surface Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Lines and until its closure in December 2007 the East London Line.
  3. Tube Lines: Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines

Metronetís collapse in May 2008 resulted in TfL taking the maintanence contract of eight lines back in-house. The similar failure of Tube Lines in June 2010 also resulted in it coming under the wing of TfL, effectively ending the Public Private Partnership exercise that had cost £500 million to setup.

In its time as a private company Tube Lines had overseen the upgrade work to numerous stations, the introduction of extended 96ts Jubilee trains to seven cars and transmission based signalling to the Jubilee Line with extended weekend works receiving much criticism from passengers, retailers (particularly in the Stratford area) and the press. The sub-contractor, it would appear, had underestimated the complexity of the work. In turn this delayed upgrade works to the Northern and Piccadilly Lines.

The end of the PPP was the result of a £400 shortfall in funding to complete the works to upgrade the lines. TfL were of the opinion that works would cost £4bn, the arbiter Chris Bolt however declared the cost would be £4.4bn. In comparison Tube Lines had costed the works at £5.75bn. Boris Johnson looked towards central Government to fund the shortfall as this method would be cheaper as opposed to raising finances privately.

On 27 June 2010 Tube Lines became a subsidiary of TfL, with its previous owners being paid £310 million for the company. Almost immediately planned upgrade works were reviewed with some postponements made (e.g. upgrade work to the Northern Line and replacement Piccadilly Line trains), however other works continued unaffected (e.g. platform extensions as part of the ongoing S-stock programme).

The very first A-stock unit with DM 5000 nearest the camera, as it heads south from Ruislip station on Sunday 20 April 2008 -taken by ChrisW