TfL Bakerloo line extension: Warning of 'critical failure' risk for service amid Budget call

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A new report says the Bakerloo line extension could unlock 20,400 homes, create 9,700 jobs and deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy.

The government is being urged to commit to funding the Bakerloo line extension and upgrade ahead of the upcoming spring Budget.

A new report says the extension could unlock 20,400 homes, create 9,700 jobs and deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy.

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The Bakerloo line extension would see the line extend south from its current Elephant and Castle terminus to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate.

Transport for London (TfL) says there is furthermore the potential for a phase two of the extension, beyond Lewisham into Hayes and Beckenham Junction.

An impact assessment released by Central London Forward, a partnership of 12 local authorities, says the extension of the Bakerloo line would support sustainable travel, with 150,000 additional public transport trips and 20,800 fewer car trips daily.

It would improving connectivity for commuters, with travel time from Old Kent Road to Oxford Circus cut by nearly two thirds from 38 minutes to 13 minutes.

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The report warns of the escalating risks of inaction – including a potential "critical failure" of the line. 

The proposed Bakerloo line extension. (Picture by TfL)The proposed Bakerloo line extension. (Picture by TfL)
The proposed Bakerloo line extension. (Picture by TfL)

The Bakerloo Line has the oldest rolling stock in passenger service in the UK, with trains that are now 16 years beyond their intended lifespan.

The report says: "Current rolling stock is more than 50 years old, well beyond the planned 36-year lifespan. There is a risk of a sudden critical failure, which would lead to the withdrawal of the fleet and the line ceasing to operate."

The report showed that 630,500 customer hours were lost last year on the line due to cancellations, up 370% over the last decade. 

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In December the government announced an additional £250 million in TfL funding for improvement projects, but TfL and the mayor of London said this is just half of the £500m to £600m that they need to meet its capital needs.

Central London Forward is calling on the government to commit to the Bakerloo line extension and upgrade in its Spring Budget which will be set out by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on March 6.

Cllr Kieron Williams, chair of Central London Forward and leader of Southwark council, said: “The Bakerloo line upgrade and extension is an investment that would keep our city moving forwards. At a time when we urgently need to get growth back on track, it would boost our economy, create jobs, and unlock tens of thousands of much needed homes, all by making better use of the tunnels we already have beneath our capital.

“But we can’t deliver it alone. To unlock these benefits we need the government and London to invest together. At the budget next month, the Chancellor should commit to delivering the Bakerloo line upgrade and extension, and work with London and businesses to deliver this transformative scheme.” 

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Andy Lord, commissioner of Transport for London, said: “We continue to progress work on our plans to upgrade and extend the Bakerloo line. Securing a new fleet and signalling would improve reliability across the line, protecting the future of the Bakerloo line, while bringing new benefits to customers along the line. A further extension of the Bakerloo line to Lewisham and beyond would also provide a step change in connectivity and capacity unlocking much needed new homes and supporting jobs and economic growth both across London and more widely across the UK via our extensive supply chain.

“While we are grateful to the government for providing £250m towards our capital investment programme for 2024/25, securing long-term certainty would allow us to start planning properly for future investment. It is vital we get certainty of funding to allow us to move forward with the Bakerloo line upgrade as soon as possible and in the most cost effective manner. This upgrade is necessary to support the extension which is safeguarded and ready to take through the planning process.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The government has provided more than £6.6bn of support to TfL since 2020, including the most recent injection of £250m to help fund new Piccadilly Line trains in December 2023.

“Transport in London is devolved meaning it is for the mayor to deliver services in the capital and explain how his decisions are funded.”

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