LONDON'S TRANSPORT Commissioner Bob Kiley has launched a blistering attack onproposals to privatise London Underground's in-house technical maintenance capability under the Public Private Partnership.
Under PPP, LU's technical maintenance wing, the Acton based Railway Engineering Workshop (REW), has been offered to private consortia as part of the Sub-surface Lines Infraco. This was set up within LU to run the Circle, District and Metropolitan lines.
REW teams of skilled technicians and engineers repair rolling stock, signalling and rail equipment, either as part of emergency squads which carry out trackside work or in workshop repair teams.
Criticising some of the firms involved in developing electrical and signalling systems that could take over maintenance work, Kiley said: 'It's the same ones that crop up every time there is a procurement process like this. Once in, they create problems which only they can solve, generating more work for themselves.
'They are worse than a virus in a system - at least you can take a shot for a virus to cure it, ' he added.
A senior LU engineer told NCE: 'The level of knowledge possessed by as few as 300 people who are responsible for the whole of the system has been developed with years of experience, often on bespoke systems and equipment unique to LU. If they leave, their knowledge simply could not be replaced and the Tube would face a crisis.'
Kiley also confirmed fears that the uncertainty created by the PPP could mean a haemorrhage of key staff.