Tube sell-off is set to go ahead

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Indy Politics
John Major is insisting that the Tube will be privatised with a high-profile launch before the end of the month despite fears of a hostile public reaction.

Sir George Young, the transport secretary, has received assurances from the Prime Minister and other senior ministers, including Michael Heseltine, the deputy prime minister, Brian Mawhinney, the party chairman, and John Gummer, the environment secretary, that the sell-off will go ahead.

Sir George, who was expected to announce the privatisation yesterday, has told cabinet colleagues that more work needs to be done on plans to privatise the capital's rail network.

Doubts have already been raised. A leaked memo, which The Independent has seen, reveals that the private sector might have to pay to take London Underground off the Government's hands because of the money required to renew parts of the network. The document says receipts from the sale could be as little as pounds 600m. London Underground's assets, including office sites in the city, have been estimated at pounds 13bn, making it a potential bonanza for prospective purchasers.