Tube tries a new line

London Underground plans to make up part of its investment shortfall by selling cable capacity along its tunnels and ducts. Sharmeen Lalani-Fade, business development manager, said that the Underground was ‘making a determined effort to take a share in the projected telecoms boom’. Information about the available cable capacity has been circulated since last week […]

London Underground plans to make up part of its investment shortfall by selling cable capacity along its tunnels and ducts.

Sharmeen Lalani-Fade, business development manager, said that the Underground was ‘making a determined effort to take a share in the projected telecoms boom’.

Information about the available cable capacity has been circulated since last week to more than 200 companies in Britain and overseas, including British Telecom.

There is no bidding deadline, and Underground managers cannot forecast how much revenue might be generated, saying that it could be anything from as little as £30,000 to several million pounds a year. Bidders who want to use cables for fibre-optic telecommunications must possess a public telecoms operator’s licence.

Apart from telecoms cables, the only other likely use for the cables is for power lines. As of this week there is just one such possibility: a power line which could be run to the Millennium Experience exhibition site in Greenwich.

Whatever is earned from the lease of cable space will be used for ‘urgent improvements to the Underground that we could otherwise not afford’, Lalani-Fade said. This will offset an estimated investment shortfall of £700m over the next three years.

Cable space is being offered on 20 or 25 year renewable leases.