I was alarmed to read your report about Transport for London’s substantial budgetary deficit and the discussion of swingeing cuts to services, including the potential closure of an entire Tube line. Some bus routes have already been shortened within central London and traffic congestion continues despite the introduction of Ulez.
It would be both unacceptable and internationally embarrassing should the capital city be effectively unable to maintain its own public transport system.
Should TfL not receive sufficient funding from central Government, then it must serve a section 114 notice and hand over operations to Whitehall, thus effectively nationalising the network.
Privatisation of transport has proven not to work in a passenger-friendly and efficient manner. As per usual, the public pay the price for mismanagement.
The possible closure of an entire Tube line is unthinkable, and may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. It would surely cause a disproportionate amount of harm, but the threat shows the precarious state of TfL’s finances. What has been missing from the recent debate, however, is an acceptance that many Tube and bus services have been nowhere near full for many months. If that trend continues, can we really afford to maintain services at the current level?
Ross Lydall, City Hall Editor
Migrant issue must be dealt with together
There is no doubt that the on-going attempts by migrants to cross the Channel at whatever cost, be it in human life or cash, will not simply go away. These people see the UK as not only a place where they would like to find work but also where they will find fellow countrymen and a familiar language.
Equally, the French government is busy preparing for next year’s presidential elections. At present, president Macron has lost much of his original popularity and so needs to claw back support from the disillusioned. But cancelling the invitation to Priti Patel to attend the conference on resolving the migrant crisis is not doing anyone any favours, as an agreement with the UK is fundamental to any possible solution. Interviews with refugees in Calais reveal an inflexible determination to reach the UK, so why not resolve the problem in a humane and sympathetic way.
It is hardly inconceivable that both Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson might seek to leverage a humanitarian disaster for domestic political purposes. The PM’s public letter last week, and the French decision to promptly uninvite the Home Secretary from a summit to discuss the migrant crisis, demonstrate this reality. Franco-British relations seem to hit modern-day nadirs every month. It should not require further loss of life at sea to knock heads together.
Jack Kessler, Leader writer
Cut the cost of quarantining
Could someone please explain to me why quarantine hotels are so expensive? In addition to the usual services, staff presumably have to drop off food boxes daily, but that shouldn’t make it so extortionate. What are they serving? Champagne? The absence of a budget option is particularly unfair for those caught out by Omicron.
Tube strike only drew public ire
What did RMT general secretary Mick Lynch and his Tube union strategists set out to achieve by striking on some of the busiest shopping days with a new Covid variant on the loose? What they did was cram more people much tighter together on fewer trains. This does not seem like a very good way to muster support.