pounds 1bn overspend on Tube link

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The Independent Online
LONDON'S beleaguered Jubilee Line extension is likely to cost almost pounds 1bn more than originally planned.

The transport minister Glenda Jackson confirmed last night that the cost of the link between central London and the Millennium Dome in Greenwich has escalated from pounds 1.9bn in 1993 to pounds 2.85bn.

The eventual cost may be even higher and, to add to the troubles, the line was hit by strike action yesterday. There have been allegations of sabotage and directors of the biggest electrical contractor on the project alleged that some of the electricians who walked out had been guilty of vandalism.

The company, Drake and Scull, has urged the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union to take action against the "villains and thugs" accused of damaging equipment. The union has replied that if there is evidence of criminal damage, the police should be informed.

Sheila Knight, the company's personnel manager, confirmed that management had made allegations of sabotage, but said there had been "no serious incidents" and it was not a big concern.

The company professed surprise over yesterday's industrial action by 400 electricians, which was in protest at the transfer of 11 employees from London Bridge to Green Park. Union sources said the men were angry that a safety representative, who had pointed out deficiencies in fire alarms at London Bridge, was one of those transferred.

Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who is responsible for the completion of the Dome, is trying to ensure that the link is open in time for the celebrations. However, completion has been delayed because of industrial unrest and technical problems.

Senior managers believe the damage to equipment has been done by disaffected employees intent on delaying the project to prolong their employment.