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With Scotland heading for devolution, the power base of the new 'English' government lies firmly within the M25. The nation's capital will be the centre of fierce debates over a wide range of issues, with transport again to the fore.

London Transport is waiting with increasing impatience for the government to announce what plans it has to boost funding in the tube network. Partial privatisation, franchising and even business levies are all being touted by apparently knowledgeable sources, but the Department of Transport's plans are obviously proving difficult to push through the Treasury.

LU will also, of course, have to tip-toe around the fact that this year it will be opening the JLE partially, late and considerably over-budget. And it now seems possible that a 16km tube line will end up costing more than the budget for the 108km CTRL.

BAA - a long privatised transport utility - will also be waiting for a government decision on whether it can construct the £1.8bn Terminal 5. The planning inquiry, the longest ever, is due to end in August this year at the latest, but a final decision is not expected until 2000. At least BAA will be able to cheer itself up with the delayed opening of the Heathrow-Paddington Express link.

Delays are something unacceptable at the Millennium Dome site in Greenwich. And as the covering is draped over the cable net sometime this summer, hiding preparations for the Millennium Experience from view, the leaks and rumours about what is going on under the Teflon can only increase.

If Londoners vote for it in May, there will be a new Greater London Authority, complete with the capital's first true modern mayor having a say on all these issues. Transport in particular is likely to be among its top priorities, something reflected by the identity of possible mayoral candidates including no less than three (present or former) transport and/or environment ministers.

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