Plans for phones on the tube hit the buffers

Londoners may be spared the prospect of having to endure mobile phone conversations on the Underground as the cost of wiring up the capital's ancient caverns is looking prohibitive.

Chinese teleco Huawei had said it would be willing to stump up some £50 million to get the scheme off the ground in time for the London Olympics in 2012, but talks between it and European networks appear to have hit the buffers.

Talks between Transport for London authority and operators O2, Vodafone, Three and Everything Everywhere ended after the bill for the scheme was fleshed out with realistic numbers.

In a joint statement, the posse didn't rule out bringing a mobile network to the Tube at some later date but meeting the 2012 deadline has been ruled out. "As a group we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us in order to provide a service at a later date," the statement read.

Mayor of London Biffa Johnson tried to put a brave face on the matter, although as the caped crusader on a bike, he would not have had to endure the prospect of sitting next to some suit on the Tube reeking of beer and perfume telling the missus of the hard day at the office.

"We are grateful to the companies who explored the possibility of getting full mobile coverage on the Tube, although disappointed that the genuine problems encountered could not be overcome on this occasion," a statement from the Mayor of London's office said.

A recent survey of Londoners revealed most against the plan to enable the use of mobile phones. Plans to enable Wi-Fi in the dank, rat-infested caverns beneath the capital are progressing apace, however.