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JLE: opening soon but no date set

THE JUBILEE Line Extension will open 'in the next few weeks', a project spokeswoman told NCE on Tuesday.

She insisted that safety certification to run trains along the first stretch of track from Stratford to North Greenwich was very close to being secured.

But despite these assurances, and those made by project manager Bechtel last September that the first phase would be open by 30 April, a precise date for the first passenger trains can still not be given.

The spokeswoman said: 'There is no hold up. The JLE has always said the first phase will open in late spring.'

Engineers are still locked in discussion with rail safety specialists some four months after trains made the first proving runs.

The JLE spokeswoman insisted: 'We have to go through hundreds of different types of test to satisfy not only the Railway Inspectorate, but also the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority and our own management, to ensure the railway is safe.' No certificates have been issued for the trains as yet.

Opening of the underground line between Stratford in east London and Westminster was rescheduled last summer when Bechtel was brought on board to manage the project. It decided to abandon the problematic moving block signalling and to open the line in three phases: Stratford to North Greenwich, North Greenwich to Waterloo and finally Waterloo to Westminster and Green Park.

Bechtel is on a substantial bonus to bring the project home on the revised programme, in particular to have trains running to the Greenwich Dome by the Millennium. Project manager Clifford Mumm told NCE last September that the first section would open by 30 April, the second section by 31 August and the full project complete by 30 September (NCE 1 October 1998). This final completion date has since slipped to October.

Antony Oliver

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