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Long term Northern Line closures could speed Tube maintenance

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LONDON UNDERGROUND is considering plans for long term closures of Northern Line tunnels to speed up maintenance and renewals work, managing director Tim O'Toole said this week.

The proposals have been submitted by upgrade contractor Tubelines in response to LUL calls for ideas to accelerate infrastructure improvements.

'We have already drawn a proposal out of Metronet for the [closure of the] Waterloo & City Line, ' said O'Toole, speaking exclusively to NCE.

Tubelines is responsible for the upgrade of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines:Metronet is upgrading the Bakerloo, Central, Victoria, Circle, District, Metropolitan and Waterloo & City Lines.

'Tubelines has just given us the outline of a proposal for some interesting things that we might be able to do on the Northern Line, ' he said.

'We are going to give those immediate attention and try to bring them forward if we can, ' he added.

The Tubelines' proposals involve the closure of several undisclosed segments of the Northern Line.

This will help the contractor get work done more efficiently by avoiding the need to break down the site and put signalling back together at the end of every night.

But O'Toole stressed that the proposals were nothing more that a series of ideas, and that no decisions had been made on whether to act on them.

LUL will now apply three key tests to the plans.

'We are going to have to look at whether they can resource the work, ' he said, pointing out that it would be unacceptable to have lines closed with no work going on.

'We also need to ensure the savings are being shared with London - not in money but in greater improvement to the system.' O'Toole said that he would have to examine whether London's transport system could cope with the impact of Northern Line closures.

Tubelines said it had already brought forward track upgrade work on one section of the Northern Line. This involved track replacement between Old Street and Angel Stations.

'This was completed successfully over three weekends and demonstrates that we are able to deliver this type of project, ' said a spokesman.

This work had originally been scheduled for later in the first seven and a half year section of the public private partnership programme to upgrade the Underground.

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