Boris Johnson evasive over Jubilee line and cable car
Mayor of London Boris Johnson was on elusive form this morning when he was quizzed by the London Assembly about two major transport projects affecting east London.
Mr Johnson, facing his monthly Mayor's Question Time, admitted increased services on the Jubilee line are now likely to be running in the autumn rather than July, while the Thames cable car will open "when it's good and ready".
When asked about the long-overdue completion of the Jubilee line upgrade, Mr Johnson said commuters will have to expect "teething problems" over the summer while the new signalling software is bedded in.
But he promised there would be no more weekend closures on the line after the end of June.
He said: "The last weekend closures will be on June 25. We must be absolutely clear that there will be a period in July when the new software comes in that we expect teething problems, but that will not go on for too long.
"By the autumn we will see a substantial increase in capacity and up to 27 trains per hour, that's 5,000 more people per hour. Next year it will be up to 30 trains per hour, that's as many as run on the Central line."
The upgrade was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2009 by the Tube Lines consortium under a public private partnership contract. That deadline was missed and the consortium was bought out by Transport for London last summer for a reported £310million.
TfL revised the amended deadline for completion to last October, and then to this spring, but both those dates were missed. It subsequently said the 27 trains an hour service would be operating from July.
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the Assembly, condemned Mr Johnson's attitude.
She said: "Passengers will find it truly unbelievable that there is yet another delay to when the Jubilee Line will be operating at full capacity, seven days a week.
"Today's admission is the fourth broken promise made by the Mayor as to when improvements to the Jubilee Line will finally be completed.
"Jubilee Line users have been messed around for far too long. It is time the Mayor apologised to Londoners for both the inconvenience they have suffered as well as his repeated broken promises, and now sorted out proper compensation."
Meanwhile, no completion date has been given for the cable car linking The O2 with the Royal Docks - which is being funded by TfL after it failed to find private investment. The Mayor insisted if its future was not dependent on the 2012 Olympic Games.
Mr Johnson said: "The cable car will be delivered when it's good and ready, and ready to carry passengers across the Thames. There's no delay. It may be ready for the 2012 Games, but it's not tied to that.
"We are doing things that are much more important than the cable car. It will be ready in the fullness of time."
When pressed by Ms Pidgeon, Mr Johnson revealed the link, costing at least £57million of taxpayers money, could be ready by next summer but refused to be drawn further.
He said: "You are trying to get me to set a deadline, but I won't. There's very complicated work being done, with piling into the Thames. If we commit to a deadline that proves impossible you would correct me for failing to keep to that."
The Mayor defended the economic value of the cable car, despite the lack of private backing.
He said: "It's valuable in its own right. It will help with what we are doing at the Royal Docks enterprise zone. There's a good business case for it."
However, Mr Johnson's assertions cut little ice with Ms Pidgeon.
She said: "For the Mayor to state that the cable car will be completed when 'it's good and ready' is totally unbelievable.
"It is simply staggering that the Mayor is throwing around £57 million of public money at the Thames Cable Car yet is totally incapable of giving any assurance as to when it will be open.
"The Mayor should get on top of this flagship project."