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Putting Tube subsidies in context


Neil Morton states that there are 434M passenger journeys each year on the Tube (NCE 7 February). Like much of his argument this is wrong.

In 2000/01 there were 970M passenger journeys on the London Underground - 33M more than on the national railways, according to the Bulletin of Public Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2001.

Improving the Tube will assist the development of London's economy, help contain road congestion, provide mobility for people without cars, and improve conditions for passengers.

These 'external' benefits are estimated by the London Transport annual report 1999/2000 to be worth in excess of £4bn a year.

The Underground's income in 2000/01 was £1,229M and its costs (including depreciation) were £1,497M giving a subsidy of 28p per journey or 5.8p per passenger mile. Subsidy rates for national rail franchises were 5.3p per passenger mile.

However these rates vary widely being generally below average in London and the South (about 2.4p) and much higher on cross country and provincial services. North Western Trains for example had a subsidy of over 20p per passenger mile.

If full costs to passengers is to be the sauce for the capital's goose then why not for the province's gander - at 20p extra per passenger mile it would only add up to £1,000 or so for the average commuter?

David Bayliss (F), david. bayliss@btinternet. com

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