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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Tube 'almost' in private hands
Tube escalator
Tube lines could be under new control in six weeks
The government's controversial privatisation of London Underground has taken a step closer.

London Transport has signed contracts with the engineering firms that will do the job of modernising the system over the next 30 years.

But the scheme will not get the final go-ahead from Health and Safety officials for another six weeks.

The underground's managing director Paul Godier said: "The Tube has today moved one vital step closer to the essential long-term funding it desperately needs."


It has been a long, hard slog to get where we are

Paul Godier
London Underground

But rail unions said the Public Private Partnership plan (PPP) would be "an unmitigated disaster".

Mick Rix, general secretary of the train drivers' union Aslef, said: "Passengers and the taxpayer will be paying for this blunder for years to come and before very long we will have to work out how to undo the PPP and restore a publicly controlled underground."

This stage in the Tube's PPP can be likened to an exchange of contracts in the housebuying process.

It came about after London Transport Board voted unanimously to proceed with the modernisation plans.

Mr Godier said: "It has been a long, hard slog to get where we are today.

Investment

"We are all working flat out to make sure the final pieces of the jigsaw are in place so that work can start, without further delay, to deliver a world-class Tube for a world-class city."

Transport secretary Stephen Byers said he shared LT's views that the plans, which will see around 16bn invested in the Underground over the next 15 years, were "the right solution and offered significant benefits for Londoners".

Under PPP, the Tube Lines consortium will be responsible for maintaining and upgrading the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines of the Tube, while the Metronet consortium maintains the rest of the lines.


It will cost the taxpayer and commuter a packet

Bob Crow
RMT

The actual operation of the trains will stay in the public sector and will be the responsibility of the London Mayor and the capital's Transport Commissioner.

Mayor Ken Livingstone and the commissioner Bob Kiley have both been bitterly opposed to PPP.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "The disaster of British Rail privatisation is being exported wholesale on to London Underground.

"Londoners don't want it, our members on the Tube don't want it and the Mayor doesn't want it.

"The only people who want this to happen, apart from the government, are the privateers dribbling at the prospect of getting their snouts stuck into another trough."


News stories

The Kiley Factor

TALKING POINT
See also:

15 Apr 02 | Scotland
Deal bolsters anti-PFI lobby
29 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Byers under fresh Tube attack
21 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Chunnel link 'a flawed deal'
07 Mar 02 | England
Byers 'jumped gun' on Tube plans
03 May 01 | Facts
The London Underground
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