Metronet, the PPP London Underground consortium that includes Atkins and Balfour Beatty, is to make almost 300 of its full-time staff redundant

About 290 administrative and middle-management positions will be affected, although Metronet claims the number of redundancies could be lower. Metronet also plans to reduce the number of temporary agency staff and consultants by as many as 290.

The announcement comes in the midst of growing tension between Metronet and London Underground over who should pay what towards an estimated £750m cost overrun in the first seven-and-a-half years of the PPP. A review by an arbiter is expected to start in four weeks.

Tube Lines, the PPP responsible for a third of the Underground, says it is ahead of target on all its contractual targets in the first quarter of the financial year.