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Letters to the editors

Procurement problems

The Underground construction industry has suffered yet another humiliating setback.

The appointment of Bechtel to complete the JLE works following its similar participation in the Channel Tunnel, is a very poor advertisement for UK industry (NCE 1 October).

The quote in your article from an LUL spokesman that this was quite a common occurrence is hardly fact when applied to the Victoria Line and Fleet Line (later Jubilee). The current LUL management philosophy which has reduced in-house expertise in favour of outside

procurement is at the root of the trouble.

It will be interesting to see whether the Channel Tunnel Rail Link suffers a similar fate following the appointment of a procurement expert.

At least any increase in costs or delays will be to Railtrack shareholders' account in the latter case, but with the JLE costs will once again be borne by the travelling public and taxpayers of this country.

GR Heath, (M), Wynchmore, 7 Chenies Avenue, Little Chalfont, Bucks HP6 6PR.

Making observations

Contrary to the impression given in the article 'Down to design' (NCE 1 October), HSE is not, in principle, against observational methods in tunnelling or other geotechnical processes.

Since the Heathrow collapse, I personally have been involved in three tunnel projects where observational methods were successfully employed.

HSE accepts that observational methods do have a role as an engineering method. It was for this reason that I actively supported the steering group for the CIRIA report Observational methods in ground engineering - principles and applications (Funders Report/CP/49).

Provided the procedures and recommendations in that report are followed, observational methods are acceptable to HSE.

Donald R Lamont (F), HM Principal Specialist Inspector (Construction Engineering), 337 Magdalene House, Stanley Precinct, Bootle, Merseyside L20 3QZ.

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