Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Warning over 'cattle-class' Tube

A Tube train during rush hour
Rush hour Tube travel by 2026 could be "cattle-class", the report warns

Tube passengers may face "cattle-class" conditions if improvements to the London Underground are delayed or scrapped, a business group has warned.

A study by London First found that by 2026 the morning rush-hour crush could see overcrowding similar to squeezing four people into a telephone box.

It said Crossrail would add 30% to passenger capacity and be the "lifeblood" for the London Underground.

The Tube upgrades will also add £23.5bn to Britain's economy, the report said.

Fare rise 'justified'

The study looked at the London Underground by 2026 with and without the upgrades that have been promised since 2003.

In the absence of improvements by 2026 about 500,000 passengers could be forced to squeeze into Tube trains during the morning rush hour in temperatures as high as 32C, it found.

Congestion will hit the Victoria Line where crowding will be up by 80%, seeing 266,000 journeys an hour.

It also predicted severe congestion on the Piccadilly Line, between Finsbury Park and Holborn, the Northern Line, between Camden Town and King's Cross, and the Bakerloo Line.

Crossrail site in Tottenham Court Road Tube station
Crossrail will add 30% to passenger capacity when finished in 2017

But although the upgrades and maintenance would cost £11.4bn, they would deliver direct benefits worth £30.5bn to users and generate £23.5bn for the UK economy.

London First's chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said the Tube "has risked becoming a worn and broken asset" in the past 20 years.

"Its modernisation began six years ago, and is now starting to bring tangible benefits to passengers.

"It must not falter, or we risk sentencing Londoners to decades of Underground misery, with cattle-class conditions every morning."

"The upgrade of the Tube more than pays for itself," she added.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said recent fare rises were to ensure an alternative to "sardine-tin travel".

"The decisions we are making in London in terms of our business plan, the fares package, and efficiencies at Transport for London, mean a multi-billion pound investment," he said.

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