Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/389/4407
Renationalise London's tube
METRONET IS a consortium of big private companies that controls two-thirds of London Underground's (LU's) infrastructure. This bloated 'infraco' makes £50 million a year from the government's public-private partnership (PPP) scheme in LU.
It sacked its chief executive John Weight, gave him a £350,000 payoff, then replaced him with Andrew Lezala, chief operating officer of Jarvis. This notorious privatising engineering company was kicked off maintenance contracts on the mainline railway after failing to maintain the line where the 2001 Potters Bar train crash took place.
Metronet includes firms like Balfour Beatty, whose original £180 million PFI investments are now valued at £600 million. This contractor knew of broken rails on the line around Hatfield four months before the 2000 train crash but didn't repair them.
It also includes WS Atkins, who advised Thames Trains not to fit Automatic Train Protection (ATP) which stop high-speed trains from passing red signals. That's what happened at the 1999 Ladbroke Grove crash.
Metronet, together with Tube Lines, are supposed to rebuild and refurbish the tubes under £15 billion 30-year contracts. Metronet were meant to refurbish eight stations but so far they haven't finished any. Their lines have suffered increased delays and safety breaches including derailments.
Privatisation schemes like PPP promised good public services. But private companies want risk-free profits. If profits can't be guaranteed or aren't high enough, investment dries up and services, including safety, get worse.
Opinion polls say only 11% of Britain's population support privatisation. The Socialist Party says: pay for investment by renationalising London's tube and the rest of the rail network under democratic working-class control and management. And fat-cat speculators like Metronet, who have made vast profits and taken huge subsidies off the public, should get no compensation!
In The Socialist 21 April 2005: