Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown faced questions from the London Assembly Transport Committee yesterday on issues including Heathrow expansion, Barking to Gospel Oak electrification woes, Metropolitan line extension funding and TfL’s savings plan.
Assembly member Tom Copely grilled Brown over claims that Heathrow expansion will result in an 80% increase in freight traffic, despite pledges in the draft National Policy Statement that Heathrow must keep landside traffic at today’s levels.
Copely highlighted the strain it would put on an already congested road network, along with the negative impact on air quality.
“I think it’s worrying, unless there’s something going on that I don’t know about, that the government or the airport don’t seem to be taking urgent steps to have a firm look at this,” said Brown, adding that there are many questions to be answered on the proposed expansion.
Brown also defended TfL’s involvement in the Barking to Gospel Oak electrification blunder, laying the blame firmly at Network Rail’s door.
“It is absolutely inconceivable that I would apply my own project team to manage somebody else’s railways upgrade project,” he said.
“It’s a Network Rail project, it’s their failing, they didn’t deliver.”
Network Rail has already begun a review of what went wrong with the design for the electrification works.
On the Metropolitan line, Brown suggested it could be funded from TfL’s growth fund, as there is still £200M unallocated. However, with other transport projects vying for the funding he could not confirm how the extension will be funded.
Brown was also quizzed on TfL’s ambitious £4bn saving plan over the next five years, listing £2bn of savings from internal cuts and £2bn from better aligning of commercial contracts. He would not be drawn on specifically where most of the £800M of savings per year will come from, citing commercial sensitivities.
“It is very important that you are able to preserve your negotiation position by not upfront putting all those numbers out in the public domain,” he said, adding contractors would use the figures as a benchmark.