Governments, Competition and Utility Regulation
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Governments, Competition and Utility Regulation

Edited by Colin Robinson

Governments, Competition and Utility Regulation continues the series of annual books, published in association with the Institute of Economic Affairs and the London Business School, which critically reviews the state of utility regulation and competition policy.
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Chapter 7: Regulating London Underground

Chris Bolt


Chris Bolt INTRODUCTION1 My job title – which is, in the Greater London Authority (GLA) Act 1999 that establishes the role, the ‘Public–Private Partnership Agreement Arbiter’, or ‘PPP Arbiter’ for short – is perhaps not the most self-explanatory. The reaction from most people is ‘What is the PPP?’ More informed audiences, such as this, do not need to have those initials expanded, and generally understand that my role relates to the London Underground PPP. But almost everyone still asks ‘What does an Arbiter actually do?’ At least the job title does make the point that my role is one of an Arbiter – not regulator, or for that matter arbitrator – and that the Arbiter is concerned with specific contracts, not companies or a particular utility sector. So the title of this paper is misleading. If ‘regulation’ is defined as consumer protection achieved through continuity of service and safe and efficient delivery, while allowing a reasonable return for efficient service providers, then no one person ‘regulates’ London Underground. Certainly as Arbiter I do not. The PPP arrangements for London Underground are new and still relatively unfamiliar. The model adopted by London Underground Ltd (LUL) for the PPP is fundamentally different from that familiar in other infrastructure sectors, including the national rail network; and the role of Arbiter has no close parallels – either in the UK or (so far as I am aware) internationally. So I will start by describing the PPP Agreements and the Arbiter’s role within...

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