Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Let’s get controversial

Posted in Commuter, London, Metro by Chairman Pip on 15 March 2010

OK, I’m gonna say something now which might cause some controversy. The London Underground should be privatised. (Waits for uproar from union barons saying that private investment is wrong and everything should be taken back into public ownership).

Perhaps I should explain a bit more. First off, before anyone says anything, I know that it has been to a certain extent privatised through the horrendous PPP arrangements for infrastructure maintenance. However, I believe that’s been proved not to work, and that maintenance work should remain in-house at London Underground. No, it’s the running of trains that I’m talking about. Again, to explain, I don’t mean the whole network either. But, the Metropolitan line is unlike any other of the lines on the Tube network. It is commented often that it operates more like a mainline suburban railway than a Tube line – it has 34 stations and 35.5 miles of length, of which only 9 stations and 6 miles is actually underground; it is the only line on the Underground system to operate limited stop express services; and it is the only line with a full published timetable. Because it operates as a mainline operator, why not make it a mainline operator? The Metropolitan line could be transferred to the control of London Rail, thus removing the cost of operating it from London Underground. Its operation could then be contracted out as a concession similar to London Overground, with the staff employed by the contractor (just like LOROL), and the rolling stock sold to a ROSCO and leased back (like QW Rail Leasing). Although the Metropolitan, District, Circle and Hammersmith & City will all eventually use the new S Stock trains, the Metropolitan Line will operate a different batch (8-car as opposed to 7-car for the rest of the sub-surface network), and thus these would be separated as standard from the rest of the S Stock fleet. Beyond the six mile underground section in Central London, the maintenance of the rest of the line could then be turned over to London Rail to be maintained similarly to the London Overground network. This way, the operation of the Metropolitan line is removed, allowing the cost of it to be reinvested by London Underground elsewhere on the system. Given the difficulty TfL has with the Tube Lines fiasco and being told to find an extra £450m to fund the work, any way of saving costs should be welcomed and encouraged.

Would introducing "London Metropolitan" as a new brand enable savings to be made that could be channeled into the rest of the network?


3 Responses

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  1. Claire said, on 9 April 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Yes, I welcome ideas that free up money needed elsewhere. Let’s face it, £450 million is a substantial sum!

    Is this your own idea? Maybe you shoud write and suggest it… 🙂

    Why is the Metropolitan line run more like a mainline operator? The published timetable surprised me.

    • Chairman Pip said, on 10 April 2010 at 9:06 pm

      To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why the Met is run differently to the rest of the network – presumably because it covers the area that lies furthest from the centre of London, with some long stretches between stations.

  2. […] the sub-surface lines, and they form part of London Underground. Almost exactly a year ago, I posted an entry suggesting that the Metropolitan line be removed from the control of London Underground and be […]

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