Tube use is down 95 per cent during the lockdown Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Transport for London will furlough 7,000 staff from Monday to save money after the coronavirus lockdown saw its income from fares collapse.

Essential staff like Tube drivers, station workers and engineers will not be affected by the plan, which will save TfL about £16 million a month.

The network could run out of money by the end of the month if the Government does not step in, Sadiq Khan warned on Wednesday. The mayor said TfL is already eating into reserves – essential cash that helps the transport authority maintain its credit rating and borrow money for new projects at reasonable rates.

Unlike most other cities, London does not receive a transport grant from central government. Instead, most of TfL’s funding comes from passenger fares, under a deal negotiated by Boris Johnson during his time as mayor. But with Tube use down 95 per cent and bus use falling 85 per cent during the pandemic, the network’s finances have taken a severe hit.

Now TfL will use the Government’s furlough scheme to cover 80 per cent of wages for staff who are put on temporary leave. The network said it would top up their full salaries from its own resources.

TfL boss Mike Brown said talks with the government about emergency funding were “ongoing and constructive” and he was optimistic about an “urgent agreement”.

He said: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic. We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but nevertheless the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90 per cent.”

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Jessie Mathewson is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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