Northern Line

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15 January 1996.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00, 15 January 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects new trains to be introduced on the Northern line. [7444]

Photo of Mr Steven Norris Mr Steven Norris , Epping Forest

I understand that London Underground plans to begin introducing its new, privately financed train service on the Northern line towards the end of this year.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

I welcome the substantial investment in the Golders Green depot, which will improve job opportunities in my constituency, and the £1 billion upgrade on the Northern line, which will improve the quality of life of many of my constituents, but may I ask my hon. Friend whether the slight delay in the introduction of new trains on the Northern line will involve the payment of any compensation by GEC?

Photo of Mr Steven Norris Mr Steven Norris , Epping Forest

I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that as a result of the arrangement which London Underground was able to include under the private finance initiative, late delivery of trains will indeed give rise to compensation. Taxpayers will get some of their money back if the contractor fails to perform. That is in stark contrast with the pre-existing arrangements whereby in publicly owned utilities no compensation was available.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Does the Minister realise that travellers on the Northern line have had an appalling service for a long time and that that situation continues? Can he assure the House that there will be no increased cost to London Transport or to Londoners generally as a result of the private financing of the new line? Can he also assure us that the people who will lose their jobs at London Transport if the train maintenance work is given to GEC or other contractors will be compensated, and that the people who are employed will be employed under proper conditions commensurate with those of workers at London Underground?

Photo of Mr Steven Norris Mr Steven Norris , Epping Forest

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that, historically, the Northern line has not been good enough. It was not good enough through all the years of Labour Governments in the 1960s and 1970s, and it was not good enough under the Conservative Governments interspersed between them.

I am delighted that the £1 billion improvement to the Northern line is now very much under way and that the almost £400 million-worth of new trains procured under the PFI should be introduced towards the end of the year. The detailed conditions of implementing that contract are properly a matter for London Underground, but I know that it is concerned—as the hon. Gentleman quite properly is—to see that sensible arrangements in terms of staff and the use of facilities are made.