Little-noticed by a media focusing on one bunch of scoundrels trying to form a government with another bunch of scoundrels, it seems that the despised and discredited London Underground Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is dead. TfL is to buy Tube Lines from its shareholders Bechtel and Ferrovial, which, following Metronet's inglorious return a couple of years ago, means that all maintenance is now back inhouse. Hurrah.
The cloud to this silver lining, though, is that they very people who warned against the PPP all along - ie. the workforce - may be made to pay the price. TfL is to pay Bechtel and Ferrovial £310 million for the Infraco, an extraordinary reward for their failures. The public sector should simply have taken it back, with no payment.
BoJo has given assurances that farepayers, taxpayers and the government will not have to stump up any money for this move. But someone will have to pay. Tubeworker strongly suspects that it will be Underground workers, both infrastructure and operation, as our employer tries to refill its coffers at the expense of our jobs, wages and conditions.
Tube Lines will still exist as a 'wholly owned subsidiary of TfL' when the sale is completed at the end of June. Its return to the public sector should be an opportunity to do away with the layers of bureaucracy such as the Arbiter, Infrastructure Service Charge, abatements, etc, as it makes no sense for TfL to pay itself for a contract, and then fine itself for an overrun!
But it seems that the privateers will still be involved. According to the statement from TfL: 'Amey (Ferrovial) will continue to provide management and maintenance services for the Jubilee, Northern and Picadilly lines on an ongoing basis. Bechtel will continue to work with LU for an interim period to ensure a smooth transition of the capital works program to LU'. So they are still profiting out of it?
Perhaps BoJo has kept the profits private but socialised the losses - and the ongoing problems.
Moreover, while welcoming the demise of the dreadful PPP, we wonder what plans our Tory mayor and Tory-led government will have for the Underground. When PPP was first devised, the Tory alternative was wholesale privatisation.