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Tube sell-off will see stations demolished and grant used up

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Hiving off London's tube to the private sector will result in wholesale demolition of stations and soak up half its recent £365 million allocation, an expert forecast this week.

Julian Boss, who did a study on tube stations for London Transport last year, said: 'Many stations will be replaced by more flexible modular buildings. The private sector will probably go down this route because a lot of the older stations are expensive to maintain, not fit for their purpose and don't maximise potential or retail.'

The overhaul would take up half the total allocation, he added. 'An escalator alone costs £2 million and minor refurbishment of 30 stations could notch up £20 million at least. With more money available it will be good for architects.'

There are 271 stations in total and 50 are said to need drastic repairs.

Meanwhile, designers are urging London Transport to keep a firm grip on the day-to-day running of the stations. Christopher Nell, the LT design unit's design manager 'environments', said:

'We have development plans for several stations and we are waiting to see how things will develop.

It is important that day-to-day running stays at the corporate centre.'

Firms are to be given up to 40-year leases to run stations, track and tunnelling. They will maintain and modernise stations based on incentives and penalties by London Underground, which keeps control of train operation. Details of this carrot-and-stick approach are currently being firmed up.

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