Tube budget 'must be protected' for upgrade work

The Tube network is likely to "fall apart" unless its budget is protected and "urgent" upgrade work is carried out, London Underground has warned.

One signal box at Edgware Road station dates back 85 years, while desktop fans have to cool control-room circuits from the 1960s at Earls Court station.

"We cannot keep having technology of this age," said the company's managing director, Mike Brown.

Transport for London receives £3.2bn a year from the Department for Transport.

But the department could face cuts of 40% as the Treasury reviews spending, with Chancellor George Osborne warning of average reductions of 25% for Whitehall budgets.

Nearly £2bn is due to be spent on renewing and repairing equipment, as well as upgrading the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines.

Image caption Desktop fans have been purchased to cool circuits with valves in the 1960s control room at Earls Court

Mr Brown stressed the Tube network was "absolutely safe" for passengers, despite the old equipment - some of which requires spare parts which are handmade - and trains on the Metropolitan Line which went into service in 1960.

But he said the reliability of the service would "fall apart" if any money was deducted from his budget.

"We cannot keep having technology of this age," he told BBC London.

"We really have to pursue this upgrade. This is now urgent."

The Department for Transport stressed the Tube upgrade was essential to protect economic growth in London, but it was up to Mayor Boris Johnson to decide how Transport for London's budget was spent.

"I'm absolutely determined to protect the Tube upgrades, Crossrail, the bus network," Mr Johnson said.

"We're going to work really, really hard," he added, although he conceded there would be "pressure" on budgets.

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