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London Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley
London Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW WITH LONDON TRANSPORT COMMISSIONER BOB KILEY ON APRIL 1ST, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:

Well a month ago it seemed that the man brought in by Ken Livingstone to revitalise London's Underground system could be edging towards an accommodation with the government. Bob Kiley was adamant that the original scheme for breaking up the tube to a number of different privately owned operating companies would not maximise efficiency or safety and John Prescott's team appeared to accept many of the points that he was making. But last week the compromise proposals came apart again when the government said that they couldn't accept the Kiley scheme and in fact, and in fact Bob Kiley you're going to seek a Judicial Review, but just one question before that, from last week when we were talking to John Prescott and he sort of, this was on Sunday morning and he, he sort of, sort of denied that there was a total breakdown at that point, and then he said well no we're waiting for a response from Mr Kiley who went away for three or four days over to the States at the beginning of the week, that's the beginning of last week, we're a bit surprised. Then he came back with some new demands, did you come back with some new demands?

BOB KILEY:

There were no new demands, the, the issues that have been before us which have actually divided us all this time have really been the same since the beginning. There have been modifications to proposals, the issue that has bedevilled these discussions the last few weeks has been the question, the old question, the original question of keeping all operations under a unified management so that train movements can be controlled under one jurisdiction, that includes track, all the track, the infrastructure that supports the track, the rolling stock, the electronics - particularly the signals - and the communications, need to be directed by the same management that's moving the trains. Under PPP all of the maintenance activities except for running the trains themselves are split among three companies which have only weak ways of communicating with one another never mind working seamlessly with the underground itself. That's the fundamental flaw and it has been corrected.

DAVID FROST:

But now the two things are sort of separate in a way, aren't they, I mean you could fund it one way and you could have a, the structure still unified couldn't you?

BOB KILEY:

I believe so.

DAVID FROST:

Is that more, that's more crucial than the actual method of funding isn't it?

BOB KILEY:

Oh yes indeed, funding, funding can never take priority over reliable and safe operations.

DAVID FROST:

And in terms of the Judicial Review, you, you're going to a Judicial Review, how long do you think, how long do you think that will take that process?

BOB KILEY:

Well I'm probably not the right person to ask about that, the lawyers seem to think it could take anywhere from 30 to 60 days.

DAVID FROST:

And is there any chance of more talks between now and 60 or 30 days?

BOB KILEY:

As far as I'm concerned the door is never closed on talks, legal action, law suits are more often settled than seen through to their final adjudication. So talks are always preferable.

DAVID FROST:

What is the, what is the move you need from the government, you said last time you were here that the Wizard of Oz as you put it, Gordon Brown, was, was you thought in the background there saying you can't say yes to that even when John Prescott might have been inclined to say yes to that. What's the real crunch now?

BOB KILEY:

I think the crunch is what we'veż

DAVID FROST:

Just, just the specific thing, the unified management structure?

BOB KILEY:

It, it's the unified management structure, it, it's the question that dividing the critical maintenance activities from the actual running of the trains, there's also a related question of the ability of the underground to actually have ultimate authority over the capital works projects which is also now missing from the equation.

DAVID FROST:

And is there a danger, we touched on this last time, but is there a danger that, that in fact private industry would object to such a strong unified management role coming from outside them, that it would make it difficult for them to raise the money?

BOB KILEY:

Well it is said that the, the bidders, the private companies are, are troubled by all the permutations and convolutions that seem to have been batted about and I can understand that. I think the true test of whether a scheme will work, assuming we can agree on one is when we take it to the bidders and which in effect is the marketplace to see if they respond affirmatively. I've always believed that they will and the bidders wouldn't dream of running their own companies, their parent companies in this kind of divided half-cocked fashion so I can't believe they would really, in the last analysis think this is the best thing for London.

DAVID FROST:

And the tube strike this week - do you condemn it or are you encouraged it as an indication of support for your proposals?

BOB KILEY:

Well this is the second time they've been out in the last three or four weeks and they made their point the first time. My feeling is that, is that a strike is, is an absolute last recourse because in effect what happens when public employees in a very sensitive area such as the London Underground go out they're effectively holding the public hostage and I don't think there was a lot of sympathy out in the streets last week so I, I told them, they came in to see me just before this happened, I asked them if they wanted my opinion, they said yes, and I said I think this is a mistake.

DAVID FROST:

Well in general terms, I suppose, the 30 days or 60 days of Judicial Review mean that one of the targets that the parties had of getting this thing settled before the general election, you seem to have four extra weeks but, but that's not going to be enough for Judicial Review?

BOB KILEY:

Well I continue to think that, that, that if the government is ready to make a full-fledged genuine move that takes into account these one or two issues that have been holding it up from the very beginning that this could be resolved in a matter of days not weeks.

DAVID FROST:

That's quite clear, and if the Judicial Review went against you and went for the government as it were, would you still stay on?

BOB KILEY:

Would I still stay in this job? Yes.

DAVID FROST:

You would?

BOB KILEY:

I would.

DAVID FROST:

That's what I like, a direct answer to a question, that's, that's terrific.

BOB KILEY:

I've had a lot of practice answering that questionż

DAVID FROST:

Yes.

BOB KILEY:

one word.

END

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