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UPDATE 1-London mayor requests $7.4 bln bailout for Transport for London - FT

(Adds background and details from FT report)

Sept 30 (Reuters) - London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a 5.7 billion pounds ($7.37 billion) bailout package for London's transport operator, in an attempt to keep the capital's transport system going for the next 18 months, the Financial Times reported on.ft.com/3cLZnFe.

Khan, who serves as the chairman of Transport for London (TfL), has requested the financial package in his submission to the government’s spending review, as passenger numbers continue to plunge due to the coronavirus pandemic-induced strict measures on public transport, the newspaper said.

TfL, which relies mostly on income from fares to run tubes, buses and trains, and invest in new projects, had initially secured 1.6 billion pounds in government funding in May for covering a shortfall in revenue until October.

In July, TfL said it would need funding of 2 billion pounds for the second half of the year, up to 300 million pounds more than it outlined in an earlier emergency budget, as passenger numbers remained low due to the pandemic.

Khan in his submission has argued income from ticket sales had fallen “around 90 percent as a result of lockdown, and will be nowhere near returning to normal levels as long as social distancing measures are in place”, according to the report.

Separately Khan has also called for an urgent new package of financial support for retail, hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors which are hit hardest by the pandemic, according to FT. ($1 = 0.7739 pounds) (Reporting by Rebekah Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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