Posted 4th August 2022 | 3 Comments

Shapps calls for driverless trains as condition of TfL funding

Transport for London has been offered a ‘final’ funding offer from the government which is intended to see TfL through to 2024, when it is expected to become largely self-funding again.

The amount is not known, but transport commissioner Andy Byford had said TfL would need £927 million for the rest of this year alone.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is demanding a controversial reform in return, which would see driverless trains introduced on the Underground.

Transport commentators have warned that such a change could be very expensive, because much of the central London network is in deep tube tunnels which would need to be enlarged to provide passenger walkways. Rail unions are also opposed to the idea.

Mr Shapps compared London with Paris, but Metro lines there are in shallow, larger tunnels, and of the two which run automatically one was newly built.

He told the BBC: ‘To give you one example other European cities, even Paris for example, have moved ahead and now have driverless trains – the London underground doesn't.

‘We do need to move forward on some of these modernisations as well and this package urges and requires TfL to do that.

‘The balance we have come to here is the right one. It is the only offer which is on the table. There will not be a further one, but we will work with TfL on the technical details to assist them.

‘I very much look forward to this being put to bed so that Londoners don't have to keep hearing about stories about TfL needing more money and coming out with the begging bowl.’

Commissioner Andy Byford added: ‘We have previously set out to government that we would need £927 million for the remainder of this year, as well as a long-term capital funding deal to support London's economic recovery.

‘We are in active discussion with the government to ensure that the draft funding proposal that they have made is fair and deliverable and can prevent the managed decline of the capital's transport network.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Just the sort of idea you'd expect from a driverless government.

  • strawbrick, Watford

    I would suggest that Mr Shapps has not read June 2021 "The Political Myth of the Driverless Tube Train" on the London Reconnections site.
    [We don't normally allow links to other publications, but I am going to make an exception in this case. The full article can be found at It is worth reading. And yes, Strawbrick, I doubt Mr Shapps has read it either!--Ed.]

  • John Porter, Leeds

    With TfL’s plans for 40% of Elizabeth Line trains turning round at Paddington, an experiment could try operating 20% driverless between Abbey Wood and Paddington and 100% during any strikes. The relieved drivers could act as ticket inspectors as they do on Docklands DLR.