The London Underground transport delays are not just a headache for commuters. Last week's suspension of Northern Line services threatened to cause a hiccup in the public/private partnership contracts held by Tube Lines Limited. At the heart of the dispute is the safety breach issue - London Underground said that, due to safety problems, it had suspended services on the line, but Tube Lines said the delays were a direct result of driver action.

If a safety breach is found to have caused suspension of service, Tube Lines would risk losing the contracts under which it manages the Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines of the London Underground. Tube Lines launched a defense against negative press reports in relation to talk that the Northern Line suspension was a direct result of safety problems as stated in an emergency directive issued by the London Underground. Tube Lines said that this emergency directive did not provide the basis for moving toward a mandatory sale of the contract.

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