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Boris: Metronet collapse forces Victoria work halt

A combination of the collapse of Tube upgrade contractor Metronet and fewer commuters using the tube has forced Transport for London (TfL) to abandon work to upgrade stations and postpone the much-needed Victoria tube upgrade.

The Mayor’s policy adviser Kulveer Ranger admitted that TfL’s finances were in a poor state during the Labour Party conference in September.

Measures include:

  • Deferring Metronet tube station renewals by three years
  • Postponing the completion to Victoria’s congested tube hall until 2018
  • Step-free access programme scaled-back
  • Reductions to tube services
  • Hiking fares to compensate for TfL financial difficulties

Recession

Boris said: “Nobody wants to make an announcement like this, especially when Londoners are feeling the effects of the recession. It is not a decision that I have taken lightly. Indeed, I have been persuaded of the need for fare rises only after ensuring that every efficiency possible, at least £5bn in total, is being made at TfL.

“However the mistakes of the past and the current economic climate have conspired to present us with a huge challenge. The crucial thing is that we safeguard the investment in our city’s future and that’s why I’m asking Londoners to accept this difficult decision.

“With this package we can protect the elderly, the young, the poorest, and disabled Londoners, and can go forward to deliver the vital improvements that Londoners deserve - including Crossrail, the upgrade of eight Tube lines, new trains, the cycling revolution, and a host of other improvements ahead of the 2012 Games.

“I know that Londoners value hugely the expansion of, and improvements to, the buses and Tube and the free or concessionary fares available for many passengers.  I share that view. 

“Yet it is now clear to everyone that the era of ever-rising funding from the taxpayer is now firmly at an end.  I will need to take this into account when it comes to setting fares in future years.  But I am determined to ensure that fares in London will continue to deliver excellent value for money, particularly when compared to the fares charged in other UK cities,” he said.

Bus fares will rise by 12.7% and Tube fares by 3.9%.  Changes will also be made to London’s Congestion Charge Scheme to make it easier to pay and avoid penalty charge notices through the introduction of payment on accountin 2010.

Shambles

RMT Union General Secretary, Bob Crow said: “A large chunk of the multi-billion financial black hole facing TFL is a direct result of the failure of tube privatistion. Passengers and staff are being asked to pay a heavy price for the failures of politicians and it is no surprise that they are angry at these heavy weight fare increases.

“The continuing shambles over the station renewals and upgrade programme following the collapse of Metronet is just another part of the grim legacy from the privatisation disaster. The politicians who created this mess should be taking responsibility instead of asking passengers and staff to take the financial hit.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • A better idea would have been to go back to the shareholders of Metronet in the first instance and recoup some of the vast profits the consortium of Balfour Beatty, EDF, Atkins and Thames Water made in the early years of the Metronet PPP Contract. This would have provided significant funding towards Victoria Station Upgrade instead of cancelling a much needed Project that would have alleviated passenger congestion and given a shot in the arm to the construction industry to boot. I worked at Metronet and I agree with the National Audit Office report of June 5th 2009 in to the failure of Metronet that the lack of governance executed by the likes of Balfour Beatty directly contributed to the failure of Metronet. Yet, these companies are still allowed to tender for Tottenham Court Station upgrade and are still providing management staff at an enhanced rate to LUL to close out Metronet Legacy station projects, which can not be good value to the taxpayer.

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