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Four in a telephone box – why Tube investment is vital

Business organisation London First has today (Tuesday 27 October 2009) unveiled research (link to full report in notes to editors) which shows the benefits – to passengers and to the economy – of maintaining investment in the Tube, and the impacts for commuters of postponing it.

The report explains that building Crossrail and completing modernisation of the Tube will bring the vital extra transport capacity needed to meet London’s forecast growth. In addition, the Tube’s modernisation will generate wider economic benefits for Britain in the order of £24 billion of additional GDP.

Drawing from Transport for London’s own data, the report finds that without continued investment, Londoners will face increasingly impoverished travelling conditions on a daily basis: unreliability, slower journeys and – most noticeably – much more overcrowding. Some passengers will be put off using the Tube altogether and will add to congestion on the roads or simply not travel at all, reducing London employers’ ability to recruit and costing London and the UK the opportunity of further economic growth.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:

“The Tube is an iconic symbol of bustling London. But in the last twenty years it has risked becoming a worn and broken asset. Its modernisation began six years ago, and is now starting to bring tangible benefits to passengers. It must not falter, or we risk sentencing Londoners to decades of Underground misery, with cattle class conditions every morning. With forecast revenues, and taking the cost of maintenance that will be necessary in any case, the upgrade of the Tube more than pays for itself. Together with Crossrail, a modernised Tube will be the lifeblood of a transport system fit for a growing, prosperous world city.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson – who joined London First at the launch of their report – said:

“This report sets out in graphic terms the absolute necessity to keep investing in London’s transport infrastructure. The alternative is sardine-tin travel that will do nothing for Londoners’ quality of life or our city’s reputation. The decisions we are making in London in terms of our Business Plan, the fares package, and efficiencies at TfL, mean a multi-billion pound investment: safeguarding key projects and bringing major improvements now and in the future.

“My commitment to the Tube upgrades and Crossrail is fundamental and unwaivering. The benefits of Crossrail will only be realised if continued investment is also provided for the rebuilding of the Tube. These two fundamental projects are inextricably linked. Over the coming months and years we all need to make sure that the government maintains its side of the investment that is needed to ensure that London, the powerhouse of the UK economy, retains its position at the summit of world cities.”

The passenger experience – snapshot findings:

Without modernisation of the Tube, to give just five examples, during the morning rush hour in 2026:

• Half a million passengers (twice as many as now) – will commute in conditions defined as ‘very crowded’ – the equivalent of four or more people in a telephone box.

• The 10 mile journey from Tooting Broadway to Canary Wharf will take almost an hour to complete, due to delays caused by crowding – about a fifth again compared to now.

• The ticket barrier and entrance at Victoria station will be shut every six minutes, for two minutes each time – to maintaining safety in the face of severe crowding.

• Every passenger using Bond Street station will have to add an extra 10 minutes to their journey to push their way through overcrowded escalators and platforms.

• Today’s 18 minute, six mile journey from North Acton to Oxford Circus will become almost an half hour trip because of excessive station and platform crowding.

• Passengers will suffer in 32°C temperatures, in excess of limits defined in EU regulations for transporting livestock.

ENDS.

Notes to Editors

Holding the Line – summary report; For a copy of the research report contact Rob Fox

• London First’s report ‘Holding the Line’ will be launched to business leaders at a Transport breakfast with Mayor Boris Johnson on Tuesday morning.

• Graphic images from the report illustrating forecast levels of overcrowding, without further Tube modernisation, are available on request.

• London First is a business membership organisation with a mission to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure.

• London First delivers its activities with the support of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes further education colleges and all of London’s universities. London First members represent over a quarter of London’s GDP.

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