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LU to restart bidding process for £3.2bn subsurface lines

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LONDON UNDERGROUND has confirmed that intends to call for new bids for the maintenance and enhancement of infrastructure and rolling stock on its subsurface lines in the Official Journal of the European Union this week.

Last week's failure of negotiations with Railtrack has left the bidding process for the £3.2bn package on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and East London lines about six months behind schedule, LUL public private partnership project manager Martin Callaghan told NCE.

Railtrack had exclusive rights to negotiate for the subsurface lines in a three-part package: to maintain and enhance the infrastructure and rolling stock, to integrate the Circle Line with the Great Western main line at Paddington and to integrate the East London Line with main lines. But Railtrack's deal was terminated after it became clear that integration plans would be expensive and take too long.

Callaghan told NCE the package would now go out to tender without the integration parts. He said it would be in the same form as the deep tube packages; the only difference being the potential to include integration 'add ons' later.

As NCE went to press on Tuesday, Railtrack had not confirmed whether it would reapply for the subsurface line contract. But it is understood to be talking to contractor Bechtel and consultant Gibb, the team used during earlier negotiations, with a view to preparing to bid for the revised subsurface line package.

London Transport chief executive Denis Tunnicliffe told NCE on Monday that Railtrack would not be able to bid for the deep tube lines as it had missed the prequalification deadline. However, he suggested that he expected them to apply for the subsurface lines.

'Railtrack will have to decide whether this is the sort of business that it wants to be in,' he said. 'Clearly being in the business of running a PPP is very different from running a PPP and having other things fitted to it for which it is peculiarly competent. Whether it decides to prequalify will be up to Railtrack.'

However, the five consortia bidding for the two deep tube packages - Linc, New Metro, Metronet, Tube Lines and TubeRail - all said this week that they would be interested in taking on the subsurface lines but not if it meant competing with Railtrack.

They also said they would like to see the tender process carried out sequentially with their current bids rather than in parallel. At around £5M per bid, it would represent to much risk.

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