Underground has got worse under Labour

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The Independent Online

Long-suffering travellers on the London Underground have had their fears confirmed. The latest figures show that services have indeed got worse since Tony Blair came to power.

Statistics released by John Spellar, the Transport Minister, show that the number of trains run on six Underground lines has decreased since Labour's election in 1997.

LU sources said the figures underlined the urgent need for more investment in the Tube. Next week could be make or break for the Government's funding plans to raise private finance in a public-private partnership for the Tube.

A board meeting on 7 February will hear if the PPP plans have passed an independent assessment of whether they are value for money. If not, private bids to run the Tube could fail, and the project could be handed back to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.

The figures show the extent of the problem faced on the Underground. Delays caused by breakdowns have risen on four of the lines; on a fifth route, the Circle line, the number of breakdowns fell because there were fewer services. The Northern line retains its reputation as the "misery line", though the picture is improving – the number of delays caused by breakdowns rose to a peak of 4,229 in the year Labour came to power. It fell to 1,647 by the end of the last financial year, but many would say that is still too high.

Half-a-dozen lines saw performance indices worsen over the period. The Jubilee line also saw problems but it did not become fully operational until New Year's Eve 2000.

The Parliamentary answers to Labour MP Gareth Thomas also show old rolling stock in need of replacement.