"Tube Upkeep To Cost Tax Payers £30m A Week"

After Beleaguered Metronet Calls In The Administrators

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The collapse of tube maintenance company Metronet has landed Londoners with a multi-million pound headache according to Conservative London Assembly Transport Spokesman and could mean vital improvements will be delayed even further.

At a meeting of the London Assembly on Wednesday 18th July members were told that the cost of keeping parts of the Underground previously managed by Metronet will cost the tax payer £30million per week.

Condemning this multi-million pound bombshell, Conservative London Assembly transport spokesman, Roger Evans said "The wheels have come off this Public Private Partnership and it's the tax payer who will be forced to pick up the bill.

"Today I asked Mr Livingstone where the ultimate blame for this total fiasco lies and he shrank from blaming the prime minister who, as chancellor of the exchequer, foisted this deal on London.

"Now it will be Londoners to pay for this in terms of waiting for the stalled modernisation programme to begin again and with tens of millions of pounds a week for the privilege of doing so."

Metronet won two contracts worth an estimated £8bn to revamp a number of tube lines including Central, Hammersmith and City and District in 2003.

Earlier this year the company began outsourcing station upgrades following criticism that the previous approach, which saw member companies of the consortium taking on projects, was expensive and inefficient. Soon after Metronet was again criticised this time by the PPP Arbiter after projected costs overruns of up to £750m were announced.

Following an extraordinary review, the PPP Arbiter awards Metronet £121m towards additional costs, well short of the £551m requested resulting in the company calling in the administrators.

London First Chief Executive, Jo Valentine said, "A lot of people have worked very hard to make Metronet’s PPP contracts successful. It is very distressing for them that we have reached this position.

“While today’s outcome is not exactly a surprise, it is seriously bad news for London. Improvements to the tube are desperately needed - as every commuter knows from bitter experience. These improvements are now at risk, as there may not be enough money to complete all the planned works, in the longer term.

"The most important issues for passengers are improved reliability and increased capacity to reduce overcrowding. If compromises have to be made on the improvement project, passengers will put more trains, and more of them arriving on time, ahead of retiled platforms and repainted ticket halls.”

July 18, 2007