No progress expected on Piccadilly Line signalling upgrade

New TfL funding deal does not include a commitment to upgrade signals on tube line through Enfield, reports James Cracknell

Oakwood Station
Oakwood Station is one of four Piccadilly Line stations in Enfield borough

Transport for London (TfL) still needs to find more money to deliver a major signalling upgrade for the Piccadilly Line.

Last week TfL finally signed a long-term funding deal with the government that ensures it can continue to operate until March 2024, having previously been under threat of bankruptcy because of the big fall in passenger numbers in London since the start of the pandemic.

The funding deal features a list of major capital projects that TfL will be expected to deliver, which includes the purchase and introduction of 94 new trains to replace the Piccadilly Line’s 50-year-old rolling stock.

While the new trains will boost capacity on the line by 20%, without a signalling upgrade also going ahead TfL will be unable to increase the frequency of services on the line.

Progress on the signalling upgrade has stalled ever since 2018, when TfL began tightening its budget. Asked what the new funding deal meant for the future of the Piccadilly Line, a TfL spokesperson said: “The funding agreement confirms our ability to deliver our committed transport investment, including purchasing new trains for the Piccadilly Line.

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“As a result of this funding agreement, we will be able to continue our current committed major projects and programmes, which would be at risk of having to stop if we were unable to balance our budget.

“Now we have financial certainty until March 2024, We will shortly begin a business planning process with a look to publish a new business plan later this year. This process will also assess our ability to fund early-stage work on any potential future projects, but would not expect to make significant commitments to future major projects within the two years of this funding agreement, such as new signalling for the Piccadilly Line.

“We will continue to make the case to government, including in future spending reviews, for the value of long-term certainty of funding that would enable us to commit to longer-term projects.”

Another infrastructure project that would boost rail capacity in Enfield is Crossrail 2, which was officially put on hold in 2021 but was surprisingly put back on the agenda by outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson in May this year – despite no extra funding being made available for it.

The TfL spokesperson said: “In terms of Crossrail 2, we have been clear in our recent budgets that this project remains important for the long-term growth of London, but it is not expected to be delivered until into the 2030s.

“We do not expect significant development of this scheme to take place within the next two years, but we will continue to work with government and local stakeholders to keep the scheme safeguarded to enable future development, as well as see where advance works could be carried out as part of wider developments along the line.”

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