The controversial Tube PPP scheme, which saw maintenance and upgrade work contracted out to private companies against the will of Londoners, is set to come to a close after Boris Johnson confirmed that Transport for London is to buy out the shareholders of Tube Lines.
The company was one of two to be awarded contracts by the Government despite the opposition of the majority of candidates at the 2000 Greater London Authority elections. The other company, Metronet, collapsed in 2007 after shareholders withdrew support for the ailing company. It has since been taken over by TfL although a recent report from MPs has questioned whether it always provides ‘best value’ for taxpayers.
In a statement issues on Friday night, TfL has confirmed a £310m deal to buy out the shares of Bechtel and Amey in Tube Lines, promising to generate “substantial savings”.
Mayor Johnson said: “This deal is excellent news for London. Freed from the perverse pressures of the Byzantine PPP structure, I am confident that London Underground and private contractors are more than capable of delivering the improvements to London’s transport network we need, on time and on budget.
“There is much work ahead of us, but this arrangement provides the greater flexibility we so desperately need to minimise disruption to Londoners and businesses and ensures that this vital work will be delivered in a more cost effective manner.”
The deal will draw a line under months of angry disputes between TfL and Tube Lines over the costs of future upgrade work.
It is unclear what implication the deal will have on the role of Chris Bolt, Tube PPP Arbiter whose position was created by Parliament.
London Underground Managing Director, Mike Brown said the deal “will enable us to work even more directly and collaboratively with the management and staff of our private sector partners to deliver these vital improvements to the Tube, and I welcome that. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Tube Lines’ shareholders, management and staff to the improved operational performance on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines over the last seven years.
“The Tube now carries more than one billion passengers a year and we must continue to improve the capacity and reliability of our services in order to manage anticipated growth in jobs and population and to secure the future prosperity of London and the UK.”
Responding to the Mayor’s announcement, Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport Spokesperson, said: “I welcome the end of PPP deal, which has proved to be a huge mistake for both the taxpayer and travellers.
“More details are now desperately needed. Instead of warm words the Mayor must now step up to the plate with a detailed plan as to how he will deliver on tube improvements.
“This is also an opportunity to ensure the interests of passengers are now put first while upgrade works are completed. It is vital that in future works are carried out far more quickly, with far less disruption for passengers and London’s businesses.”