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Thursday, February 07, 2008

London Underground Quids In

Tube PayoutAlmost £2bn of taxpayers' cash is being given to the London Underground to cover the collapse of the private maintenance firm Metronet.

The deal was announced in addition to a 10-year £39bn funding package for Transport for London (TfL).

Critics said it represented a "bail out" of the firm but TfL deny this.

As expected, there's more sides to this story than a town hall clock. Transport secretary Ruth Kelly said: "The settlement gives London Underground the resources needed to manage Metronet's administration and move toward a more stable long-term footing and continue the work to maintain, renew and upgrade the Underground."

The unions, in the shape of Bob Crow, say: "It was bad enough that Metronet's collapse cast a shadow over London's essential Tube upgrades, and it is scandalous that the public will have to pick up the £1.7 billion bill to pay off its lenders."

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said "This does not represent a bail-out. The money would have been paid back to the lenders over the course of the PPP contracts had Metronet stayed in business."

Brian Cooke, spokesman for passenger group London TravelWatch, said: "We hope the confirmation of funding means that TfL can now speed up any work on the transport network that may have been delayed because of fears that TfL would have to bear the cost of Metronet's collapse".


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