Tube investment – business backing, people paying

27 October 2009

A report from business group London First says passengers could be sentenced to ‘decades of Underground misery with cattle-class conditions’ if investment in the Tube is not maintained. It adds that without modernisation, the number of people commuting in conditions akin to four or more people in a telephone box would double to half a million by 2026.


It claims that without investment passengers will endure temperatures of 32C (90F) - in excess of limits defined in EU regulations for transporting livestock – and that Victoria station would have to shut two minutes out of every six to maintain safety in the rush-hour.


The group argues that ‘with forecast revenues, and taking the cost of maintenance that will be necessary in any case, the upgrade of the Tube more than pays for itself’. Boris Johnson was at the report launch and, quite straight-faced, remarked that the report ‘sets out in graphic terms the absolute necessity to keep investing in London's transport infrastructure’.


‘This is all well and good,’ says ASLEF’s Keith Norman. ‘But the question is who is to do the investing? Boris’ solution is that working people stump up the cash. The Mayor has announced plans to increase tube fares by almost 4%, which is more than three times the rate of inflation. Bus passengers have to put up with increases of more than 12 times the inflation rate.


‘Meanwhile he’s decided to scrap the £25 charge on the worst polluting gas guzzlers, like Chelsea tractors – which would have raised £50 million a year, and to drop the western extension of the congestion charge, which means some £60 million in lost revenue.’

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