No delay on Tube, Prescott pledges

BUYING A ticket on the underground was all a bit much for the Fat Controller early yesterday morning. John Prescott repeatedly pressed the touch-sensitive screen at Stratford station, in east London, but to no avail. "Oh Christ, can you get someone? Where's London Transport?" he muttered. "My 50 pence was rejected."

The Deputy Prime Minister had invited the press to a "glimpse of the future", an effort to dispel "all the doubts and cynicism" about the long-delayed, over-budget Jubilee Line extension. "This is a celebration," he declared, rather overstating the case given that two-thirds of the line is more than a year behind schedule.

Then came the pounds 3.3bn question: Will the line, designed to convey millions of visitors to the Dome, be ready for New Year's Eve? "It will open in time for the Millennium," Mr Prescott replied wearily. "The line is actually built. The stations are there. All these doubting Thomases..."

Three stations later came the announcement: "All change please. This train terminates here." The remaining stations, from Canary Wharf to Green Park, were left for another day.