The government's proposed £20bn public–private partnership plan for London Underground is certain to go to judicial review this month.
The PPP now hangs in the balance after Bob Kiley, the Greater London Authority's transport chief, this week told prime minister Tony Blair that it was unworkable.

Kiley has broken off negotiations with the bidders for the 30-year contracts to redevelop the deep Tube lines after they failed to cede any management control over maintenance schedules.

Kiley told transport minister Stephen Byers on Tuesday that negotiations with the Tube bidders had ended.

A spokesperson for Transport for London, an executive body of the GLA reporting to the mayor of London, said: "If the bidders come back to us with fresh proposals we are always willing to talk. But at the moment we are awaiting a formal response from government."

The spokesperson said the judicial review, which will start on 23 July, would have to rule on whether the mayor or the government was in charge of the underground.

She said the GLA was in an impossible position. "What is the point of having a directly elected mayor, voted for by millions and millions of Londoners on an anti-PPP platform, if he is not to be allowed to exercise his mandate?"

It is understood that Byers will insist on going ahead with the PPP despite the opposition of Transport for London.