Turnham Green Piccadilly Stop Moves Further into the Future

Project not included in TfL's much reduced capital spending plan

Piccadilly line train speeds through Turnham Green
Piccadilly line train speeds through Turnham Green

Details released of planned capital spending by Transport for London (TfL) show that no funding is in place for the much delayed signalling upgrade of the Piccadilly line. TfL has said previously that the completion of the scheme is a pre-condition for a full stopping service being introduced at Turnham Green station.

The transport network has been forced to rip up its five year plan which was published towards the end of last year. Even at that stage the Piccadilly line project was dependent on further central government spending the lack of which had already delayed the start of the upgrade. However, it was considered to be a top priority and therefore there was some optimism that the government might be willing to provide the investment.

TfL’s new, much reduced capital plan only says about the project, "We continue to lobby the Government to acknowledge our need to modernise assets through projects such as replacing the signalling system on the Piccadilly line."

The upgrade of the Piccadilly Line was part of a £5.4billion modernisation of the deep tube lines which had already been delayed by four years by the switching of part of the contract from Bombardier to Thales.

If the project had proceeded in 2019 then new trains and signalling would have been due to be introduced on the Piccadilly line by 2023. However the service would not have reached 27 trains per hour (tph) until 2026 which was thought to be the most likely date when the service to Chiswick would be upgraded. This would suggest that even in the unlikely event of the Government giving the go ahead to the project in the near future, the earliest likely date for a stop at Turnham Green would be in 2028.

Nick Rogers, Conservative candidate for the South West London seat in the London Assembly in which the station is situated, blames the Mayor for the situation. He says, “Essentially, the project is suspended until Transport for London has the resources to pay for it. The failure thus far is the Mayor's and the Mayor's alone; he has had more than four years to deliver this vital upgrade. His other transport failures have contributed directly to this; the £640million tourist fares freeze and most of all the £3billion Crossrail overspend (and £1billion in lost fare revenue) denuded TfL of resources long before the coronavirus outbreak. “

He added, “I will not stop advocating for the Piccadilly Line upgrade and I will talk to whoever I believe can help, including central government, for as long as it takes to get this done

The foot and cycle bridge by Hammersmith Bridge is one of a limited number of projects which have survived in a much reduced programme.

The temporary bridge is a seven metre-wide, prefabricated steel structure, supported by two piers in the river. The bridge would be step free, with a 5.5 metre-wide surface for people walking and cycling. Access would be by shallow ramps from Queen Caroline Street on the north bank and from close to the junction of Castelnau and Riverview Gardens on the south bank. TfL would need planning permission from both Richmond and Hammersmith & Fulham councils and a decision was originally anticipated this summer.

The project to repair Hammersmith Bridge has been identified as safety critical and has been authorised to continue during the Government's current social distancing measures. However, only preparatory work can be done without funding to complete the work being in place. There is no mention of funding being made available for a permanent replacement which would be able to take motor vehicles.

Artist's impression of temporary bridge across Thames Artist's impression of temporary bridge

The Northern line extension, Tube station upgrades will all continue and Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion will also restart.

Chief finance officer Simon Kilonback has said that TfL must “completely overhaul” its business plan because of the coronavirus pandemic as the network stands to lose up to £4 billion of income this financial year – and warned of long-term consequences for transport investment in the capital.

Half a billion pounds of TfL upgrades will now be delayed in 2020/21, he said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has branded the cuts a “false economy” forced on London by the Government. TfL has been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, with 90 per cent of fare revenue evaporating during lockdown as passenger numbers dropped. Tube journeys fell 95 per cent when coronavirus lockdown began, with bus journeys down 85 per cent.

The network secured an eleventh hour bailout from the Government last month, just hours before it ran out of cash. This £1.6 billion funding injection will keep trains and buses running until October – but the Mayor has warned the deal is a “sticking plaster”.

TfL officers set out emergency budget plans at a virtual board meeting this Monday (2 June) – with £500 million of planned investment now set to be delayed.

More than 300 projects across London were paused as the impact of the outbreak became clear, Mr Kilonback said.

But most building schemes on TfL’s books will continue – because the price of scrapping construction or cancelling contracts outweighs any savings, the finance boss explained.

The network will also prioritise plans to widen pavements and build temporary cycle lanes, so commuters can avoid public transport while the Covid-19 outbreak continues. But TfL’s overall investment will be cut this year – despite the fact that national train line upgrades funded by Network Rail are currently increasing.

TfL boss Mike Brown said it was a “massive irony” that London is losing out on cash because of “the different relationship we appear to have with central Government”.

And the Mayor warned cutting capital investment in London transport is a “false economy”.

“The Government should be looking for shovel-ready projects and a stimulus,” Mr Khan said.

“I can’t think of a better stimulus than investing in capital in the capital.”

Written with contributions from Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

June 5, 2020