What will London’s public transport look like in five years’ time?

The future long-term success of business in London is highly dependent upon the English capital’s transport network. Last year, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan unveiled ambitious plans to revolutionise London’s transport network during the next quarter of a century, but what is London’s public transport going to look like in the next five years?

As part of Mr Khan’s “Transport Strategy”, he hopes to ensure 80% of all journeys made throughout London will be made via public transport, on foot or by cycle by 2041. To work towards this milestone, the capital is to make record levels of investment in bus, London Underground and Overground rail services, helping to create a public transport system that creates zero carbon emissions by the second half of this century.

How will London make short-term strides with its public transport system in the next five years? Much of London’s investment in its rail network is centred around the Crossrail project. From the end of 2019, new Crossrail tunnels will open through Central London, connecting the heart of the capital with the many suburban areas on the fringes of the city.

Transport for London (TfL) has designed the Crossrail trains running on the Elizabeth Line to operate nine carriages per journey, with the ability to carry 1,500 passengers at a time. Each train has been engineered using lightweight materials and features regenerative braking that will require almost a third (30%) less energy than older models.

Environmental sustainability has been at the core of the Crossrail project, with 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 reduction forecast during the system’s 120-year lifespan. Furthermore, almost three-quarters (72%) of all cement replacement from the project is being designed to minimise carbon emissions. The project’s tunnelling has focused on keeping a ceiling on noise, vibration and overall disruption to residents.

In terms of the environmental impact of road vehicles in London, air pollution and toxic air attributed to the capital’s road network contributes to 9,500 deaths per year. Investment in electric cars in London is expected to grow in the coming years after Mr Khan confirmed £4.5m investment in 1,500 electric car charging points dotted throughout the capital.

There is hope that road congestion in Central London – and subsequent air pollution – can be mitigated by the development of driverless vehicles. Not only will it improve air quality in built-up areas, but it is also hoped to improve road safety, with investments in anti-collision technology ramping up. Driverless car trials are expected in the next couple of years with the Department for Business and Transport providing a £12.8m war chest to research and development (R&D) for self-driving technology.

It certainly seems that automation will become the norm for public transport in London in the coming years. Stratford’s Olympic Park recently trialled a free electric shuttle to help visitors get around at top speeds approaching 30mph.

Is your business taking a leaf out of Central London’s book by reviewing the environmental impact of your day-to-day operations? If you are undertaking R&D projects that investigate ways of innovating your business and its wider industry to reduce its carbon footprint, you could be eligible to claim R&D tax credits.

The UK government has set aside millions of pounds in tax relief for innovative SMEs and large corporations looking to advance their respective industries. SMEs with less than 500 full-time employees can claim back as much as 33p for every pound spent within a qualifying R&D project. Meanwhile, larger corporates can claim back 11p in every pound spent.

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