Boris Johnson has declared a “new era” for the London Underground with the completion of Transport for London’s deal to purchase PPP contractor Tube Lines.
Following the purchase of shares from Tube Lines shareholders Bechtel and Amey (Ferrovial), the company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL and therefore under the control of the Mayor, who also Chairs TfL.
Plans to buy the company were first announced in May following months of disputes between Mayor Johnson and Tubes Lines over the costs of future upgrade work.
Earlier this month TfL appointed Andie Harper as Chief Executive Officer of Tube Lines. Harper previously oversaw the transfer of collapsed PPP contractor Metronet to TfL and report to Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy via the LU Managing Director, Mike Brown.
Although Amey (Ferrovial) have sold their shares they will continue to perform maintenance work on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. London Underground say Bechtel will work with them for “an interim period to ensure a smooth transition of the capital works programme”.
In a statement released by City Hall on Sunday, Mayor Johnson said the completion of the deal “opens a new era for the Tube and one that will be free from the complexity and wrangling that hindered us in recent years.
“We have wasted no time in acting to limit the disruption of the Tube upgrade programme by cutting back the closures previously planned for this summer, and we will now look at how we can keep disruption to a minimum in the future.”
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “For too long Boris Johnson has tried to wash his hands of responsibility for the ongoing attacks on jobs and safety on London Underground and with today’s announcement on the Tube Lines takeover we are demanding that he steps up to the plate and starts sorting out the mess that has been left behind by the final collapse of PPP.”
PPP Arbiter Chris Bolt has stressed that although both PPP contractors are now under the ownership of TfL, legally “the relevant PPP agreements remain in place” and therefore there has been “no legal effect on the functions and powers of the Arbiter.”
A statement from Bolt’s office says: “the Arbiter understands that the infracos and TfL propose to agree changes to the contracts which make it clear that no party will seek directions or guidance from the Arbiter in future. In that event, the other powers of the Arbiter, such as those relating to the collection and analysis of benchmarking data, fall away.”
Bolt has said he will “make a further statement on the future of his role and of his Office once the proposed contract changes are made.”