Boris Johnson has written to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, requesting that the Government ensure Londoners are not shortchanged after PPP Arbiter Chris Bolt determined that maintenance work to be carried out by Tube Lines could cost more than £1billion above the funds allocated by Government.
Under the PPP scheme, which was opposed by most parties standing at the 2000 GLA elections, maintenance of the tube network became the responsibility of two companies, Metronet, which collapsed last year and had to be rescued by the taxpayer, and Tube Lines which has responsibility for the Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines.
In his letter Mayor Johnson warned: “London is the powerhouse of the UK economy, and without the transport improvements to match we are in danger of losing our competitive edge to other major cities across the globe”.
Johnson also told Darling: “Any funding required above TfL’s budget must be met by the Government who imposed this PPP structure”.
In April London Underground (LU) asked Bolt to determine the cost of work required to the lines for which Tube Lines is responsible. His final determination, published yesterday, was that the work would cost between, £5.1bn-£5.5bn. Tube Lines has estimated the work at £7.2bn while LU has projected just £4.1bn.
Mayor Johnson’s calls for Government intervention were echoed by Liberal Democrat members of the London Assembly. Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee, said the blame for any ‘black hole’ in the budget “can be laid directly at the feet of Gordon Brown. “
Pidgeon commented: “Tube Lines have assured us there’s no prospect of a Metronet-style catastrophe but why is it that a financial policy, which was sold to Londoners as their best option, is once again so spectacularly failing them?”
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone took legal action to block the PPP scheme, which was resoundingly rejected by voters in the capital in 2000, leading ministers to delay handing over control of LU to Transport for London until after the PPP contracts were signed.