TfL Furloughs a Quarter of Staff as Financial Position Worsens

Frontline staff including tube drivers not affected

Drop in passenger numbers has cut TfL's revenue
Drop in passenger numbers has cut TfL's revenue

Transport for London (TfL) will furlough 7,000 staff from Monday, to save money during the coronavirus lockdown

It means around a quarter of the network’s staff will be off work – but essential roles like Tube drivers, station workers and engineers will not be affected.

The plans will save TfL around £16 million a month, easing financial pressure during the outbreak.

The network could run out of money by the end of the month if the Government does not step in, Sadiq Khan warned on Wednesday (22 April).

The Mayor said TfL is already “eating into” reserves – essential cash that helps the transport authority maintain its credit rating and borrow money for new projects at reasonable rates.

Unlike most cities, London does not receive a transport grant from central government.

Most of TfL’s funding comes from passenger fares, under a deal negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor.

But with Tube use down 95 per cent and bus use falling 85 per cent during the pandemic, the network’s finances have taken a hit.

Now TfL will use the Government’s furlough scheme to cover 80 per cent of wages for staff who are put on temporary leave.

The network said it would top up their full salaries from its own resources.

Unite said the Government must now take “immediate action” to stop the gaps in TfL’s finances.

The Union represents more than 2,700 workers employed by the transport authority.

Unite’s TfL officer Simon McCartney said: “This situation has been on the cards for the last month and the news today should act as a spur for the government to provide a substantial financial package for TfL.

“Not just in the short-term, but in the longer term – as the mayor indicates, it won’t be business as normal once the lockdown restrictions are eased.”

TfL boss Mike Brown said talks with the Government about emergency funding are “ongoing and constructive” and he was optimistic about an “urgent agreement”.

He said: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic.

“We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but nevertheless the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90 per cent.”

Advice on the virus from Public Health England is available here.

Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

April 25, 2020