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Crunch talks held over rising costs of Kings Cross Tube upgrade

TRANSPORT AND London Underground officials were this week locked in intensive negotiations over the massive £320M cost overrun on the Kings Cross underground station upgrade.

The government-driven plan to part privatise the Underground under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) is believed to have contributed to the ballooning costs.

Overruns are almost twice the original estimate of £326M when construction started in 2000 (News last week).

Project sources refused to comment on the talks between the DfT, LUL and its PPP contractor Metronet which now manages the project.

But burgeoning bureaucracy in the run-up to the signing of Metronet's PPP contract is being privately blamed for delays which added to costs.

The project to implement the Fennell report into the fatal 1987 fire at the station was first managed by LUL. It changed in scope when it was decided to locate the Channel Tunnel Rail Link terminal at St Pancras in the mid 1990s.

The government acted as client.

But break-up of LUL into 'shadow' PPP companies in 1999 lengthened the decisionmaking trail.

All approvals were routed through London Underground's shadow PPP Infraco firm Sub Surface Lines (SSL) which assumed management of the job.

Other infracos Bakerloo Central Victoria (BCV) and Jubilee Northern Piccadilly (PCV) also then had to be consulted as their lines also feed through King Cross.

The DfT has itself been the subject of major change during the project. It has emerged from the Department for Transport, Local Government & the Regions - previously the Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions.

PPP contractor Metronet took over SSL last month and warned the DfT of the cost rise.

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