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LONDON (Reuters) - London's renowned underground network should have corporate sponsors, with privatized stations bearing branded names such as Burberry by Bond Street; Knightsbridge, Home of Harrods and Virgin Euston, according to a new report.
Corporate branding of London's underground stations would bring in hundreds of millions of pounds in commercial revenue and prevent a rise in fares, says the report by Gareth Bacon, a Conservative London Assembly member.
But TfL, the body that runs London transport network, has rejected the need for sponsored stations.
It says that subtler forms of corporate branding - such as the existing Barclays "Boris" bikes and Emirates cable cars - have already proved lucrative, bringing in 3.4 billion pounds($5.18 billion) without having to start changing the names of any of London's 270 underground stations or altering its famous tube map.
"We already do deals short of actually renaming stations or lines, including giving over whole stations like Canary Wharf to advertising by one organization," said a TfL spokesman.
"The mayor has in the past ruled out the renaming of stations, largely due to the cost of changing the thousands of signs and maps across the network," he added, referring to Boris Johnson.
TfL is revising its sponsorship policies as it tries to offset 80 million pounds in spending cuts that are planned over the next two years.
As prices continue to rise for bus and tube journeys, 82 percent of Londoners polled in Bacon's report said they favored tube sponsorship if it would prevent further fare hikes.
Similar schemes have been introduced in Madrid, New York City, Philadelphia, and in Dubai - where transport authorities have raised over 300 million pounds in deals with corporate sponsors.
Bacon claims that sponsored stations could raise an estimated 130 million pounds a year in commercial revenue, and help the city's struggling transport authority to curb fare increases for at least a year.
"Why on earth, when we're very hard pressed financially in this country, should the fare-payer constantly have to keep dipping into their restricted pockets when actually there's a gold mine that TfL are refusing to exploit," Bacon told Reuters.
Editing by Stephen Addison