Tube PPP a colossal waste of money, says Boris Johnson

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The Independent Online

London's Mayor said today that a pet project of Gordon Brown had been "ruthlessly scuppered" while the Prime Minister was "clinging on" to power.

Boris Johnson said the public-private partnership (PPP) on London Underground, promoted by Mr Brown, had wasted a "colossal" amount of money.

Mr Johnson signalled the end of the project at the weekend by announcing that maintenance and upgrade work is to be taken from the Tube Lines consortium and returned in-house.

Mr Johnson, launching his transport strategy, said PPP had cost £400 million in legal and other fees alone, so "substantial" savings would now be made.

The Mayor said he did not want to jump up and down on the corpse of PPP, but added: "It wasted a colossal sum of money. The big winners now are London's travelling public and the big losers are the lawyers."

Asked about Mr Brown's role in the PPP project, Mr Johnson said: "The facts speak for themselves. There he is, clinging on to office, with his signature project ruthlessly scuppered beneath him."

Mr Johnson said the "final nails" were still being hammered into the PPP "coffin" but he signalled fewer line closures as Transport for London (TfL) takes over upgrade and maintenance work.

TfL would no longer have to accede to demands to close lines at weekends but work to a timetable which suited the company, said the Mayor.

Mr Johnson joined business leaders in calling on the new government to maintain investment in London's transport, arguing that the capital was a "cash cow" for the UK economy.

"When we do at last have a government in this country, and I think it will be very soon, that government will have to consider how to reduce the budget deficit."

Mr Johnson said London and the South East generated 43% of the UK's tax take, with the capital "exporting" £20 billion worth of taxes to the rest of the country every year.

"If people in London cannot get to work, or the workforce cannot find anywhere to live, you will starve that motor of fuel."

Mr Johnson stressed that TfL had already taken "tough decisions" to make £5 billion worth of savings, including hundreds of job cuts which sparked a dispute with trade unions, but he added it was vital that upgrades and improvements went ahead.

Gerry Doherty, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: "We welcome the end of the disastrous PPP funding experiment and the fact that Tube Lines is now back in public ownership.

"London Underground is the best organisation to re-build the Tube and make it a world-class service in time for the Olympics in 2012. That is what both passengers and staff deserve."