The East London Line is to undergo a 1 billion pound upgrade in readiness for the 2012 London Olympics. The Shoreditch to New Cross line will be extended north to Highbury and south to Clapham Junction & West Croydon and is being closed for two years from December 2007 while the changes take place (Thanks to Dmitri and Ian for sending me the links). This is great news as it finally means that Clapham Junction (London's busiest railway terminal) will be linked to the London Underground. However when the East London Line re-opens, through a leaked memo, BBC London have heard that it will be privatised.
In a nice u-turn the privatisation appears to have been sanctioned by Sheriff Ken
"Previously mayor Ken Livingstone had been bitterly opposed to any form of privatisation on the Tube - fighting an unsuccessful campaign against the privatisation of maintenance on the Underground.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said they were unhappy at the plans and intended to fight privatisation."
Transport for London are spinnng out the good side saying that it will mean more jobs and a better service. Whereas Bob Crowfor once seems to be talking sense:
"The private sector has already wreaked havoc on the Tube since its infrastructure was privatised, and they have been leeching £2 million a week out of the system in exchange for next to no improvements.
"Neither our members nor the vast majority of passengers who have experienced the disaster of rail privatisation would want to impose it anywhere else.
"Farming the East London Line out to the privateers can only mean further damaging fragmentation and the diversion of even more cash out of the system and into the pockets of privateers, and we will do everything we can to keep the operation public."
The private contractors who've been partly running the Tube certainly don't appear to have been doing a fantastic job so far. Only last week London Underground were quick to attack Metronet for their "blunders" which meant the Tube wasn't ready to cope with a few hot days last week. (Christ knows what will happen when we really get a proper summer). Also who can forget the Northern Line's braking fiasco largely caused by Tube Lines & Metronet last October?
But that's just my opinion. What do you reckon? Are you happy having another fully privatised line (the DLR is the only other fully privatised line on the network) or is Bob Crow right about the fragmentation and more money going into the pockets of privateers?