On November 30 Britain’s Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions announced that ’the government, Railtrack and London Transport have together agreed not to proceed with discussions about the possibility of Railtrack taking on the responsibility for upgrading and maintaining the sub-surface Tube lines and linking them to the national railway network.’

Under the London Underground Public-Private Partnership, Railtrack had been offered an exclusive right to bid for the Sub-Surface Lines, whilst private consortia bid for the two deep-level tube concessions (RG 7.99 p413). Railtrack was due to produce plans for integrating commuter and metro services by March 2000, including its plan to use the Circle line for services from Heathrow Airport to the City of London. The official reason for the end of negotiations is capacity problems at Paddington following the Ladbroke Grove collision, but it is widely understood that candidates standing for election as Mayor of London in May were unhappy about Railtrack’s involvement.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has now asked the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority to advise ’as soon as possible’ on potential north-south integration projects, including the northern and southern extensions of the East London line. On the east-west axis, the Corporation of London has put forward proposals for resurrecting the CrossRail scheme mothballed in 1996, claiming that the £3·1bn link could be funded privately through a 50-year BOT concession.

  • On November 21 the CityLink Tele-communications consortium assumed responsibility for all of London Underground’s phone, data and radio communications under a Private Finance Initiative deal. The 20-year Connect contract covers maintenance and enhancement of the systems in return for performance-related payments totalling £1·2bn.