Tublines concerned over possible funding cut, union leaders warn of unqualified underground electrical staff

Tubelines has voiced concerns that funding for tube upgrades will be cut after the government said it would have to spend £2bn to bail out rival consortium Metronet.

Last week transport secretary Ruth Kelly admitted that the government would foot the Metronet bill because of guarantees that limited the liability of Metronet's five owners, which included Balfour Beatty and Atkins. Metronet looks after most of the London Undreground lines and went into administration last July.

'We're concerned that it may have a knock on effect when the strategic review happens in 2010...the tube still needs funding,' a spokesman for Tubelines told Building magazine.

A Department for Transport spokesperson dismissed the worries, saying: 'There are no grounds for that concern because there is vital work that still needs to be done. The government still intends that there will be private sector involvement.'

In related news, Contract Journal (CJ) reported that union leaders are demanding urgent talks with tube bosses over claims that electrical work on the underground is being carried out by unqualified contractors.

Officials from the electrical section of the Unite union claim general civil engineering firms are doing jobs that only qualified electrical contractors should be undertaking, having won the work in the wake of Metronet's collapse. Building reported that 1,000 electricians lost their jobs after the collapse, but Unite had reason to believe work was still being carried out secretly by other firms.

Although Metronet's station refurbishment programme has been put on hold since last summer, a Unite official told CJ: 'There is still work being let on a much smaller scale. Some of that work is going to unqualified organisations...It's alarming that these contracts are going to companies who are not registered and qualified with the electrical industry bodies. This is symptomatic of the anarchy underground at the moment.'