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PFI plan for LU is doomed say mayoral candidates

THE £8BN private finance revamp of the London Underground is a 'wrong-headed proposition' which is doomed to failure, two leading candidates to be Mayor of London warned this week. Speaking during a debate at Westminster University, Labour MP Ken Livingstone challenged the audience to bet against his dim view of the initiative.

'If anyone is willing to put £1,000 on the success of the Public Private Partnership, please come forward,' he said. No one did.

Potential bidders for the three infrastructure packages to be let under the PPP have approached Livingstone to sound out his views on running the Tube. He claimed some had admitted to being 'on the verge of pulling out' because they viewed the project as too confused and risky.

Former Conservative transport minister Steven Norris described the PPP plan as 'a complete dog's breakfast'. He said it would be more logical to keep the infrastructure in the public sector where money to upgrade the system could be borrowed more cheaply.

But operation of rolling stock would benefit from the customer relations expertise of the private sector, he said. 'This process is completely still-born and the sooner the public realise the Government has wasted two years the better.'

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