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Plan for action

LUL'S PUBLIC private partnership plan published this week intends to see £8.14bn plus an additional £286M a year of private cash injected into the Tube over the next 15 years.

Under the plan, the network will be divided into three infrastructure companies - 'Infracos' - two for the deep tunnel lines and one for the shallow and above-ground lines. LUL will be replaced by a single 'Opsco' to run the trains and stations. Concessions will last between 25 and 30 years.

Private sector companies will be invited to express interest in taking over one, two or three of the new Infracos in the next few weeks. A briefing conference will then explain in more detail the basis on which firms will be asked to bid. This will be followed by prequalification applications.

LUL intends to announce prequalified bidders this summer and go forward to full tendering in the autumn of 1999. Firms will then have around five months to prepare and submit bids.

Between now and the invitations to tender, LUL will reorganise its operation and 'shadow run' the PPP arrangement 'to demonstrate that the structure works'. Performance information will then be made available to potential bidders.

Once preferred bidders are announced, each will enter into an unspecified period of due diligence. Only after contracts are signed will responsibility for the Tube be handed over to the new Greater London Authority and its executive Transport for London.

Once up and running each concession will be reviewed approximately every seven years. According to LUL this is because 'both Opsco and Infracos will want provision for review of some of the terms of the PPP. 'A newly announced Statutory Arbiter, an independent third party with statutory powers, will resolve any disputes.

However the report points out that 'the Statutory Arbiter will not have the broader powers and duties of an economic regulator'.

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