James Forsyth

Going down the tube

Going down the tube
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Those of us who have to travel by Tube every morning are wearingly familiar with the announcement that lists the bits of the tube that aren’t working—this morning, it was that the Circle Line was suspended because of a signal failure at South Ken—and ends with the self-congratulatory announcement that ‘a good service is operating on all other lines’, some days one is left wondering what other lines are there. What makes the poor state of the Tube all the more galling is the crazy sums that the bureaucrats of Transport for London are paid. As Andrew Gilligan writes in the Standard today:

“One hundred and twenty-three top TfL managers, we report, earned more than £100,000 last year. Their average pay was £140,000 — £2,500 higher than the Mayor's. Fifteen earn more than the Prime Minister. The top earner made £540,000”

As Gilligan points out, this means that Transport for London has six times more managers on a £100,000 plus than the UK Treasury.

The extent to which extra spending on public transport has been siphoned off into higher salaries for bureaucrats is demonstrated by the fact that in 1980 “only one person, the chief executive, earned the then equivalent of £100k.” As Gilligan asks, does anyone believe that Transport for London is “123 times better, or busier, than it was in the 1980s”?

If the Tories—both in local and central government—want to make some easy savings and cash in on public anger, they should institute a cull of public sector fat cats. It is plain wrong that as taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet, their hard-earned money is being used to support public-sector feather-bedding.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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