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Mayor slams 'unacceptable' Tube Lines progress

London Mayor Boris Johnson has slammed tube upgrade contractor Tube Lines for: “unacceptable” progress on its upgrade of the Jubilee Line, and expressed doubt that the upgrade will be completed by the end of December.

Tube Lines is contracted to upgrade the Jubilee, Northern and Victoria lines under 30-year Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contracts. The company claims the work can be completed to time with five additional weekend line closures before the end of the year.

The company contracted to upgrade the remainder of the network, Metronet, collapsed in 2007 and has since been run in-house by Transport for London. In its report into progress on the London Underground PPP, London Underground say the former Metronet lines are now making good progress.

However, the Mayor has called on Tube Lines, and its parent company Bechtel, to review its Jubilee Line programme to: “restore confidence” in their work.

Boris Johnson said: “LU has been making excellent progress with its programme of improvements. But Tube Lines must get its act together if Londoners are to benefit from faster, more frequent and reliable services on the Jubilee line. I am hugely frustrated at their progress to date, which is simply unacceptable.

“Tube Lines’ hunger for more Jubilee line closures has stretched the patience of Londoners and business almost to breaking point. Before we can consider any more disruption, we must have confidence they will deliver,” he said.

Speaking about the delays LU managing director Richard Parry said: “Regrettably we now harbour grave doubts over Tube Lines and Bechtel’s ability to deliver the upgrade of the Jubilee line by the end of December, which they are contracted to do.”

LU Managing Director, Richard Parry said: “Overall, Tube performance has continued to improve over the last year, but it is the new trains and signalling systems delivered by the line upgrades that will give us the step-change improvements in frequency and reliability in future. We’ve made good progress towards the Victoria line upgrade with the first new train now in passenger service. 

“The new trains for the Circle, District, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines are now on our test-track and the vital new signalling contract is out to tender.

“This makes Tube Lines and Bechtel’s lack of progress on the Jubilee line even more disappointing and it is their responsibility to get this vital work completed.  We have already provided Tube Lines and Bechtel with a number of extra weekend closures over and above that required by the PPP contracts, which has greatly inconvenienced passengers and businesses.  But still they seek more.

“Regrettably, we now harbour grave doubts over Tube Lines and Bechtel’s ability to deliver the upgrade of the Jubilee line by the end of December, which they are contracted to do.  It is now vital that they independently review their programme, so they can present us with a clear and credible path to delivery as soon as possible.  Their reputation hinges upon meeting this commitment to delivery.”

A Tube Line spokesperson said: “Disrupting passenger journeys is always regrettable, however we still believe we can work with London Underground to deliver this vital but hugely complex project on time. 

“We are asking for the geographical extension of five existing weekend closures over the next three months. We could then deliver, on time, the benefits to passengers this major upgrade will bring. Let’s not forget we have spent five years installing a new, state of the art signalling system onto old infrastructure on an operational railway, which is difficult and complex work. 

“A huge amount of work have already been achieved to get us to this final testing stage; over 160km of track cable has been laid, 240 trackside axle counters, 10,000km of wiring has been installed on all 63 trains, and 30 new signal equipment rooms have been built.   The upgrade will provide significant benefits to passengers, including reduced journey times of 22% which will mean less crowding.  So we are totally committed to working with London Underground to enable this situation to be resolved,” she said.

London Underground’s PPP Annual Report

  • LU’s PPP Report covers Tube performance under the PPP structure for the financial year 2008/09. 
  • Improved performance for Tube customers on many measures
  • Good progress by Tube Lines areas, such as station renewal and particularly improved reliability on the Northern line. 
  • It also shows improved performance by LU on virtually all performance measures on the former Metronet-maintained lines. 
  • Such performance enabled LU to carry more passengers last year than ever before, over 1.1bn, and achieve record customer satisfaction.
  • £2.5bn trimmed from former Metronet lines through contract renegotiation, changes to the scope of work and 1,000 job losses.
  • Good progress on Victoria line upgrade
  • Ongoing talks between Tube Lines and London Underground to settle prices for the next period of the PPP.

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