Union criticizes East London Line 'privatisation'

Monday, May 8, 2006

Route map of the East London Line extension

The transport union RMT has criticised Transport for London (TfL) for the decision apparently to privatise the East London Line, which is undergoing a major upgrade and extension programme over the coming years. The announcement follows a report from BBC News which claims that a 'leaked memo' has revealed plans for the line to be run by the private sector come 2009. RMT General Secretary said "there is no earthly reason why its operations should not remain within London Underground", adding that the Union would take steps to safeguard the jobs of its members currently working on the line.

Responsibility for the East London Line extension was officially transferred from the Strategic Rail Authority to Transport for London in November 2004, and London Mayor Ken Livingstone has pledged to deliver the £900m extension by the end of the decade. However it has always been the plan that the line, once built, would form part of the national rail network, rather than the Underground network. Network Rail will manage much of the track, and private companies will run the trains under strict franchise from the London Rail arm of TfL, in the same manner as TfL franchises the bus services.

Phase One of the project, due to be complete in June 2010, will see a northern extension to Dalston Junction and a southern extension to Crystal Palace and West Croydon. This is in plenty of time for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Control of the North London Line, currently run by Silverlink, will also pass to TfL from Autumn 2007. It is planned that eventually the line will join up with the East London Line, the West London Line and the South London Line to form a circular 'Orbirail' service.

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