Senior figures leaving transport group as Elizabeth line still needs up to £275m of finishing money
Uncertainty around the future of Transport for London’s funding is contributing to a brain drain at the body with worries that it scupper the completion of Crossrail, bosses have warned.
Last week, the transport body’s emergency funding deal was extended by two weeks after it failed to satisfy the Department for Transport (DfT) demands for savings.
The DfT has provided close to £5bn in emergency funds since May 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic destroyed its fares income and hit the already delayed and over-budget Crossrail project.
The bailout has been repeatedly extended by the government and under the terms of the most recent deal TfL had been required to find £400m of savings in 2022/23.
But senior figures at TfL believe the funding situation is now having an impact on talent retention at the organisation.
An agenda released ahead of TfL’s programmes and investment committee tomorrow (Wednesday) revealed that investment delivery planning director Alexandra Batey is set to join HS2 as development director overseeing Phase 2b – the part of the line which connects the first phase with Manchester.
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According to the document, committee chair Ben Story said the loss of Batey, who has been at TfL for 20 years, “highlighted the need to secure certainty on TfL’s future funding and address pay disparities with other major transport and infrastructure providers”.
Last month, TfL chief financial officer Simon Kilonback said he was leaving the organisation after 12 years to join broadband firm G.Network as its new chief financial officer.
TfL commissioner Andy Byford told the London transport committee in February that the funding situation was “really causing uncertainty within the organisation”.
“One thing that I’m very concerned about is an absolutely evident brain drain, whereby quality people are leaving,” he said.
Last week, TfL’s group finance director Patrick Doig told the Greater London Authority’s budget and performance committee that the unresolved funding situation was preventing a final injection of funds to complete the Crossrail project.
In 2020, the previous Crossrail board said the project would need up to £1.1bn above what had previously been allocated.
Doig said: “Of that £1.1bn, at the moment we only have £825m that is funded.” He said it was “unlikely” the project would keep within the £825m figure and said TfL was speaking with the GLA and DfT about how to fund the missing funds, which could be up to £275m.
“It will get to a point later this summer where we need clarity on that additional funding to allow the project to continue,” he said.
“So it is something that we need to resolve by about September, because otherwise the project will not have the funds authorised to complete the rest of the scheme, so it’s becoming an urgent issue.”
The east and west sections of Crossrail – now known as the Elizabeth Line – are not currently connected with the new central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood which opened to the public in the spring, while Bond Street station on the central section of the line is also not open.