ON APRIL 17 Mayor of London Ken Livingstone joined Commissioner for Transport in London Bob Kiley to attack the British government’s decision to press ahead with the Public-Private Partnership for London Underground (RG 3.01 p139). On April 10 Transport for London had been granted permission to seek a judicial review of the PPP, after recent talks ended in stalemate; hearings are due to start in the High Court on June 12.

Martin Callaghan, PPP Director at the residual London Transport, had written to Kiley on April 11 inviting his comments on the recommended preferred bidders for the BCV and JNP contracts. The LU and LT boards were minded to accept these recommendations subject to ’statutory consultation’ as required by the Greater London Authority Act. Kiley’s response was requested by 17.00 on April 27, to enable a final decision to be taken by the LT board on May 2. With a recommendation for the SSL preferred bidder expected to go to the LT board in late May or June, Callaghan did not expect the PPP transactions ’to complete until the autumn’.

Kiley responded that the timescale and ’the limited and selective information’ provided on the bids ’render meaningless any possible role for TfL’. Livingstone said the government was trying to impose ’an ultra-expensive, inefficient and potentially unsafe transport system’.

Kiley said he still hoped to work within ’the broad context of the PPP’ and bring in private finance to modernise LU, but repeated his concern over the lack of detail from bidders as to the scope, budget and schedule of upgrade projects. He also remains opposed to the separation of infrastructure from operations, as, he claims, ’no other transport system in the world, save Railtrack, separates the trains from the tracks’. He added that the ’virtually preposterous’ deadline April of 27 made the statutory consultation ’something of a sham’ as bidding reached ’the point of no return’.