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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Mayor loses Tube challenge
Passengers waiting on platform
Management and maintenance of the network would be split
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has lost his court battle to block the government's part-privatisation of the London Underground.

The government believes its controversial 13bn Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme is the only way to fund the modernisation of the London Underground.

Mr Livingstone, who brought the unprecedented High Court challenge through his transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), condemned the plan as fatally flawed.


We will consider the judgment carefully with our lawyers

Ken Livingstone
But Mr Justice Sullivan rejected the application, ruling it was for the government, not the Mayor of London, "to have the last word".

After the hearing Mr Livingstone said the judgment made clear that the decision was not on whether the government's PPP was safe or efficient.

"The court's decision is simply that, irrespective of these issues, the government has the legal right to impose this scheme on London," he said.

"We will consider the judgment carefully with our lawyers before making any decision about whether or not to appeal."

Leave to appeal

It was reported that Mr Livingstone and TfL were given leave to appeal, which could take place on 17 September.

Susan Kramer, of Transport for London, said the judge's ruling went against the will of Londoners.

"The reality of PPP is very much like the issue of Railtrack and at some point it will unravel," she told the BBC.

London Underground managing director Derek Smith said:

"What we need to do is start modernising the railway not have court cases. I hope there are no future appeals."

Under PPP, maintenance and renewal of the network including track, tunnels and signals would be undertaken by private companies on 30-year leases, while management of the system would remain the responsibility of London Underground Limited (LUL).

Metronet, the preferred bidder for the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines infrastructure company, welcomed the ruling.

'21st century Tube'

Chief executive Rod Hoare said: "We are naturally pleased at the ruling and we sincerely hope that the court's decision is accepted by all parties.

"The PPP is all about partnership and together we can achieve what London and the travelling public deserve - an Underground fit for the 21st century."

But Richard Gordon QC, for TfL had told the hearing last week that PPP would leave Mr Livingstone to "carry the can" for a system he was responsible for but had little control to manage,

He said the government was defying parliament's wishes in trying to force through PPP because parliament had set up the legislation to install a democratically elected mayor who would eventually have control over the capital's transport network.

Mick Rix, general secretary of the train drivers' union Aslef, warned that his members would be balloted on industrial action if PPP raised safety concerns.

"The government may have won a legal victory, but it has lost the political argument and public opinion," he said.

Mr Rix urged ministers to think carefully before "imposing a Railtrack" on London's travellers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Montague
"The Underground says any real difference is still two years away"
Secretary of State for Transport, Stephen Byers
"London travellers want to see investment in the underground"
Managing Director of London Underground, Derek Smith
"There are many other industries where they are fragmented, but are very safe"
The RMT's Bob Crowe
"We won't accept any compromise on safety"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Down the tube?
What now for London's Underground?

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See also:

18 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube reports being 'suppressed'
06 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube boss gives new safety warning
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Kiley's clashes over Tube future
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