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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK

UK Politics

Tube gets extra £500m

The Tube will be part privatised by April 2000

The London Underground is set to receive an extra £517m before part privatisation, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has announced.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Prescott said the resources available in 2001 would total £1bn compared with planned expenditure by the Tories for 1999-2000 of £161m.

Announcing the extra cash, Mr Prescott said the money would ensure "real improvement for passengers".

[ image: John Prescott: Hoping for real benefits for passengars]
John Prescott: Hoping for real benefits for passengars
But Mr Prescott's Tory shadow John Redwood said: "We were planning to have privatised the Tube by now, so of course the numbers went down because we expected a lot of money to come in from the private sector. You cancelled that."

Mr Redwood then detailed the money spent on Tube under the Tories. It was he said £955m in 1994-95, £1.1bn 1995-96 and £1.1bn in 1996-97.

The new money will cover the underground until April 2001 when the delayed, £7bn billion public-private partnership plan for the Tube system is expected to start.

Mr Prescott added: "The core investment programme cannot deliver a transformation overnight - years of neglect cannot be quickly overturned.

"But it does ensure that there will be real improvements for passengers over the next two years. It will deliver the stability of funding the Underground needs until the completion of the PPP [private-public partnership] contracts, which will give long-term security of investment."

Mr Prescott also said he had made the extra funding conditional on London Transport "improving its performance and using its resources effectively".

The chief executive London Chamber of Commerce the Simon Sperryn said: "We welcome this news as the system desperately needs more money.

"But it is a sticking plaster" he said, and does "nothing to resolve London Transport's long-term funding problem. The government must act soon to end the uncertainty."

Tube passengers are currently enduring the closure of the Circle line until the middle of August, as well as the closure of parts of the Northern line.

Next week Mr Prescott opens the Commons debate on his Railways Bill to toughening up the regulation of the industry.

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