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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 14:50 GMT
Norris proposes 24-hour Tube

The issue of the Tube has split candidates
Tory London mayor candidate Steve Norris has unveiled his policies to improve London Underground, including plans for a 24-hour service and auditions for buskers.

Mr Norris, the former London transport minister, was setting out his opposition to Labour's proposals for a partial sell off of the Tube.

London Mayor
The future of the rundown underground system has become one of the most contentious issues in the race to become mayor of London.

The Conservatives' support the sale of the Tube, with free shares for Londoners.

A 24 hour Tube?
"Londoners care much less who owns the Tube, the buses, or the taxis that they use than they do about how they will work," said Mr Norris.

"One thing is clear [Transport Secretary] John Prescott's partial privatisation of the underground will not work.

"Thanks in large part to decades of under-investment by governments of both parties, the infrastructure of the underground is now in such a state of disrepair that no private company will take on the risk of guaranteeing the service at anything other than an enormous cost to taxpayers."

The other main candidates in the mayoral race, independent Ken Livingstone and Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer, both support the idea of a bond issue to finance the Tube.

Norris: Passengers a priority
Labour candidate Frank Dobson has said he will order an independent panel to examine the best way of financing the Tube and abide by its decision.

Mr Norris' plans also include running the Tube through the night on Fridays and Saturdays and capping fares to make sure ticket prices do not increase above inflation.

'Passengers, passengers, passengers. That is the single, simple priority for me as mayor," said Mr Norris.

" I will deliver a Tube system that keeps fares low, trains cool, and runs for 24 hours on Friday and Saturday nights.

"'I will not delay in getting to grips with the problems facing the Tube. Unlike the other candidates I am not pre-occupied with who owns the Tube, I am pre-occupied with making it work properly for passengers."

The Tory candidate also proposes auditions judged by Tube travellers for buskers and reinstating litter bins at stations.

Mr Norris also wants to use private finance to build the Chelsea to Hackney line, West London Line, Crossrail and extend the East London line.

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See also:

13 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Dobson's tax-free transport pledge
14 Mar 00 | UK Politics
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20 Mar 00 | UK Politics
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20 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Dobson gambles on mayoral lottery
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