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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 09:33 GMT
Tube costs 'astonishing'
Tube platform
The modernisation of the Tube could start in January
The government's part-privatisation of the Tube has cost 500m in start-up costs, MPs have been told.

The figure, which includes consultants' and lawyers' fees, was given by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling to the House of Commons Transport Committee.

Committee member George Osborne said he thought this figure was about five times what was originally anticipated.

Mr Darling said the figure had to be compared with the 16bn that would be invested in the Tube thanks to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) plan.

Financial hole

London Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley said: "This is an absolutely astonishing figure.

"Half a billion pounds is enough to have replaced all the 35-year-old trains on the Victoria Line."

Mr Darling said that the latest legal challenge to PPP from London Mayor Ken Livingstone had threatened to leave "a huge hole" in Tube finances.

The minister said he had taken action earlier this month which had effectively blocked the challenge because there had been "a serious risk that we would not be able to continue (with PPP)".

Figures suggesting that the Tube would be better off in public ownership only referred to the first seven and a half years of the 30-year PPP plan, Mr Darling said.

The plan had to be judged on the full 30 years and over the full term there would be "considerable gains in terms of value for money", said Mr Darling.

The effective blocking of the legal challenge by Mr Darling leaves PPP able to proceed early next year.

See also:

05 Dec 02 | England
04 Dec 02 | England
07 Nov 02 | Business
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