London mayoral elections 2016

UK head of infrastructure, Patricia Moore comments on the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London.

Heathrow vs Gatwick airports

“London’s new mayor faces an inbox piled high with unresolved construction and infrastructure issues.

“Chief among them is the question of London’s desperately needed new runway, which remains stuck in limbo.

“During the mayoral campaign, Mr Kahn came out in favour of expansion at Gatwick rather than Heathrow airport. His stance sets him on a collision course with the Airports Commission, which last summer recommended that a third runway be built at Heathrow.

“This week the Commons transport select committee criticised what it described as years of ‘political dithering’ on the issue and urged the government to speed up the decision-making process.

“But with this divisive issue kicked firmly into the long grass until after June’s Brexit referendum, we shouldn’t expect a breakthrough any time soon.

Transport for London

“One of Mr Khan’s most delicate balancing acts will be how he handles London’s public transport. The Mayor’s election pledge to freeze fares for four years is likely to have played well with voters, but will severely limit his room for manoeuvre when it comes to improving TfL’s crucial infrastructure.

“He has set himself an almost impossible challenge – to raise the funds needed to pay for vital upgrades through efficiency savings alone.

“With its ability to set fares curtailed, TfL’s ambitions to become the first major city transport authority to be fully self-funded will now have to take a back seat. Privatisation too remains firmly off the table, and TfL’s government subsidy will remain a bulwark of its business model.

“So while London’s travellers can look forward to frozen fares over the next few years, TfL will be under pressure to make ruthless cost savings - or face a tough choice between asking for more public money or delaying improvement works.”