Newslinks | 21st September 2007

The NewsEditor

Metronet The Guardian reports that TfL may be responsible for up to £1.1bn of overspend on the Metronet contracts.

The news comes as a blow to TfL's bid for the two contracts, and as an incentive to other potential bidders. As the paper reports:

A belief that whoever inherited the contracts would have to pay for the overspend, plus a near-£2bn debt burden, has tempered interest from the private sector and put TfL in pole position effectively to renationalise the PPP project by taking over the contracts.

Meanwhile, Reuters quotes the arbiter, Chris Bolt, in saying that the reason for the overspend was purely down to inefficiency:

Bolt said the biggest cost overruns had occurred on station upgrades, where rival maintenance firm Tube Lines had worked more efficiently.

"On stations, the gap between Tube Lines and Metronet was something of the order of a quarter or more of Metronet's costs," said Bolt. "I don't think Metronet was trying to fudge the figures. The cost increases came from inefficiency."

Ruth Kelly Webchat

The Number 10 website carries an interview with the new Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly.

Highlights include her speaking favourably of increasing participation in cycling, of new transport schemes being proposed by local authorities, and a hint that she supports lower road charges for low-emission vehicles.