The Tube Lines debacle continues with a new dispute over estimated costs. A draft ruling by PPP arbiters puts the cash needed at £4.4bn while Tube Lines says it needs £5.75bn and London Underground reckon on £4bn. Even the mathematically-challenged among us can spot the shortfall and that's one hell of a fare increase.
Boris Johnson plans to step into the breach, however; 'I welcome the arbiter's rejection of Tube Lines' view of costs. I am determined that any additional costs must not fall on London's farepayers and taxpayers.' he said today in response to the ruling. Apparently anxious that Tube Lines aren't too distracted, he added, 'I also urge Tube Lines to work with LU to focus on the job in hand - to complete the delayed Jubilee line upgrade as soon as possible.'
One of the most damning statements from the PPP arbiter's press release was that they believed that Tube Lines should by now have completed the Jubilee Line upgrade and be at work on the Northern Line. Regular users of the Misery Line are doubtless feeling caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of interminable line closures versus the distant promise of a better service.
It was also confirmed this morning that Tube Lines boss Dean Finch is moving on after only a few months to work for National Express. Combined with the failure of Metronet in 2007, the very public fracas over the Jubilee Line and Boris Johnson's outspoken lack of support for the PPP, we can't help but wonder if a sinking ship is being deserted.
Whatever happens, it looks like Londoners will be the ones to suffer, whether it's via a reduced service, higher fares or both.