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Consultants clash over Tube

News

ARUP SPARKED a new row over London's Tube this week, by condemning a report by US consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) into the standards used to control maintenance on the Underground as misleading.

In a new study, commissioned by London Underground (LUL) to counter the PB findings, Arup said the PB report's executive summary made 'serious assertions' against safety and the quality of maintenance which could not be backed by the main text.

The PB executive summary had been made available to the press. PB compiled the assessment of the standards for Transport for London commissioner Bob Kiley (NCE 9/16 August 2001), to gauge whether they could be used in the Public Private Partnership scheme.

PB highlighted in its excutive summary potentially serious flaws in the safety standards regime which covers maintenance for all Tube assets from stations to tracks .

The standards, it said, had 'material gaps' and were 'in need of a comprehensive update'. This made them 'neither adequate nor appropriate to be used as a management control tool', and was something that the private sector could potentially claim against, the report added.

PB compiled the report while working with Arup to provide technical advice to LUL on the £13bn privately-financed Tube upgrade. PB continues to act as Arup's transit expert.

But although Arup director Nick Higton conceded in his report this week that some standards needed updating and that there were gaps that had to be filled, he argued that PB's main report failed to highlight the procedures already in place to guarantee safety. He said that PB failed to point out that maintenance quality and safety would be controlled within an overall management system until updates had been fully completed within three years.

Higton's report added: 'It [the PB report] does not discuss the partnering relationships that are intrinsic to the PPP and to the common interests of LUL and the Infracos [private companies].'

However, PB managing director David McAllister this week stuck to his original view that the executive summary was a balanced reflection of the report as a whole, and denied that it was misleading.

'Our report was based on interviews with LUL staff and on internal LUL memorandum supplied by LUL staff, ' he said, adding that he had documentation to back all of the assertions.

He said of the executive summary, 'We stood back and looked at everything and summarised it in response to our original remit.' The final report, he added, had been checked by top level LUL management, and previous drafts commented on.

INFOPLUS www. nceplus. co. uk www. thetube. com

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