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A troop of firms are lining up in a race to secure the contract for the partial privatisation of London Underground.
Six short-listed bidders are pitching for the billion-pound contracts to maintain and improve the Tube.
The work is split into three contracts: the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines; the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines; and the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
Slaughter and May is working with LINC, Clifford Chance is advising New Metro, CMS Cameron McKenna has been brought in by Metronet, Lovell White Durrant is advising Tube Lines Group, TubeRail has employed the services of Linklaters and Simmons & Simmons is advising Railtrack.
Freshfields is advising London Transport and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions on the partial privatisation.
Richard Phillips, corporate partner at Freshfields, and finance partner Jeffrey Rubinoff, are leading a team of 24 advising on turning the Tube into a public private partnership. The firm, which has previously worked on several contracts for London Transport, underwent a beauty parade last year for the work.
Jerry Walter, corporate partner at Simmons & Simmons, is advising Railtrack, which is facing an investigation over whether they should retain their licence following the Paddington crash. Walter is unavailable for comment.
Rubinoff says: "It is impossible to say whether the crash will have any impact on their bid.
"Nothing official has come out yet. I don't think it would have any impact although, obviously, it would be affected if Railtrack has problems running its business following Paddington."
Rubinoff says the contracts are expected to cover a period of 30 years, although this has not yet been confirmed. Invitations to tender go out to the bidders this week.
He is unable to give an exact figure for the value of the contract. However, he says: "The current project for investment expenditure over and above maintenance is £4.5bn for the first 15 years, and the expenditure for the operation and maintenance is about £100m per year."