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Railways: Metronet

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Smith of Clifton and at his request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what has been the cost to date to the Exchequer arising from Metronet going into administration in July 2007.

My Lords, the extent to which Metronet’s delivery had slipped behind its spending and therefore the scale of any long-term costs will become clear only when London Underground has been able to review Metronet’s detailed accounts if it takes control of the Metronet assets from administration.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply, although it does not take us very far forward. What lessons have Her Majesty’s Government learnt from this spectacular failure? Do they intend to perpetuate public/private partnerships, particularly where maintenance on old assets is involved? Finally, what effect will this have on the Olympics?

My Lords, I will start with the last question first, if the noble Lord does not mind. I do not think that this will have any effect on the Olympics. Obviously, there will be lessons to learn, but Transport for London needs to be in a stronger position to look at the final accounts. I do not think that PPP was the failing in this; I think that it was much more to do with the structure of Metronet itself. PPP has, after all, delivered a very safe Tube system and has worked well in delivering on time and on contract. Tim O’Toole, London Underground’s MD, said last July that,

“this is more about Metronet structure than it is about the PPP”.