Crunch time for transport finance deal as another strike looms on London Underground and Overground

Transport chiefs are less than 24 hours from a crunch decision on the future of London's bus and Tube network. Ministers have set Transport for London a deadline of midday Wednesday to accept or reject a £3.6bn funding package. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described the proposed bankrolling of TfL until 2024 as the government's 'final offer'. But London mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL officials declined to reveal details of the draft agreement, saying they needed time to scrutinise the complex finance deal.

Jubilee line trains parked at the London Underground Stratford Market Depot

'Avoid very painful cuts'

"TfL must consider if this draft proposal provides the funding needed in order to avoid having to make very painful cuts and ensure that any conditions attached to this funding deal do not come at a cost - damaging TfL, unfairly punishing Londoners and our economic recovery," said Mr Khan's spokesperson. The rail unions fear the deal will come with 'strings attached' including job cuts, changes to the pension scheme and the introduction of driverless Tube trains. The RMT ratchetted up pressure on TfL by confirming a further strike by Tube workers planned for Friday August 19th would go ahead - partly in protest at the secrecy surrounding the deal. London Overground workers employed by Arriva Rail London would join the walkout. Both sets of employees are also involved in separate pay disputes. The government has given TfL £5m in bailouts since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Khan has warned of a programme of cuts to the capital's public transport system if ministers fail to stump up enough cash. The 'managed decline' of services could see the bus network slashed by almost 20% and the closure of an Underground line.

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