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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 March 2010

Tube Lines: Another fine mess

ANOTHER DISASTER for privatisation. Tube Lines, the company responsible for maintenance and upgrade work on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines of the London Underground has been branded as "ailing and failing" by Transport for London.

If that were not bad enough, London Underground (LU) are bringing in forensic accountants to "examine massive and secretive payments to Tube Lines shareholders".

Earlier this year Tube Lines put in a claim to LU for 327 million compensation for cost overruns. But an independent adjudicator found in favour of LU and told Tube Lines to pay LU's legal fees.

However the PPP arbiter also said that spending on the works on the three lines should cost 4.46 billion, 1.3 billion less than Tube Lines wanted but 460 million more than LU can afford. But he wants LU to fund the shortfall - ie passengers and taxpayers.

Tory mayor Boris Johnson whinges that Tube Lines are "looting" public money - he claims that Tube Lines' co-owners will be paid 400 million in management fees by 2017. But what does he thinks happens under the Tory (and Labour) policy of hiving off everything you can to private profiteers? Privatisation is nothing but a license to print money for big business.

The Tube Lines contract should be terminated immediately and there should be a trade union enquiry into where all the money has gone. The maintenance and upgrade work should be done in-house and the whole tube system run as part of a democratically run transport system.

Alison Hill

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