London Transport announced its first operating profit for 10 years yesterday - but its chairman called for more investment in the Underground network. The company's annual report announced a pounds 5m operating profit compared with

a pounds 77m loss in 1992-93. However, it also highlighted a pounds 338m decline in Tube investment and the loss of 2,200 jobs.

Government grants totalled pounds 692.6m, of which roughly a fifth was for new lines including the long-awaited Jubilee extension. Aslef, the train drivers' union, said more money was urgently needed, warning that much of the Underground track was worn out.

Sir Wilfrid Newton, LT chairman, said he was concerned at the 'inadequate rate of investment' on the Tube.

'The board will continue to press for its objective to secure for London a decently modern metro in the early years of the next century.'

Securing more money in the face of a large public sector

borrowing requirement would be difficult but LT was seeking to supplement its government grants by private finance initiatives, he added.

The report also carried results from an assessment by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which showed that while the Underground costs the taxpayer pounds 724m a year, its economic benefit - calculated from the value of savings in journey time, pollution and the reduced risk of accidents - was worth pounds 3,069m.

With construction now under way on the Jubilee line extension to Docklands, LT said total expenditure on new lines was pounds 301m, compared with pounds 96m in the previous

year.

Kevin Rose, an Aslef district secretary, said inadequate equipment on the existing system was putting extra strain on passengers and staff.

'A lot of the stock on the main lines is out of date. The main stock is due to be refurbished but they are dependent on funds provided by the Government,' he said.

'The permanent way (track) is so bad the trains cannot run at normal speed. That has an effect on the trains and their lives expire earlier than intended.'

Temporary speed restrictions are operating on a number of lines because of the worn-out track, but as timetables do not change trains are running late.

Underground trains, which can run as fast as 55mph on some stretches of track have been reduced to 5mph in

sections where the rails are particularly bad, and carriages on the Victoria line caused so much noise the line had to close temporarily.

Mr Rose also said flooding was a constant problem in the shallow tunnels of the District and Circle lines under the East End.

'It is putting extra strain on the drivers and the public are getting a rough deal. The Government should stump up the money it promised for this decently modern metro.'

LT's annual report also showed:

1.85 billion journeys made on its services;

Revenue from fares increased

7 per cent to pounds 1.09bn;

pounds 68m spent on restructuring the business;

Underground passenger numbers in the morning rush hour grew by 15,000 to 507,000;

London Buses carried 1,112 million passengers compared with 1,127 million in 1992-93;

The average wait for Underground trains was 3.2 minutes compared with 3.3 minutes in 1992-93.

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