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Metronet boss forced out over slow progress

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UNDERGROUND UPGRADE contractor Metronet's procurement techniques were this week called into question following the enforced resignation of chairman and chief executive John Weight.

Weight left the company last week after being asked to resign by the Metronet board.

He was asked to quit because the contractor's works programme was behind schedule.

The programme had slipped by 'weeks in some cases and months in others, ' according to a spokesman.

New chief executive Andrew Lezala is a former director of Tubelines, which is responsible for upgrading the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines.

He joins from former Tubelines shareholder Jarvis, where he was chief operating officer.

It was thought that Metronet could move towards competitively tendering work on the seven lines it is responsible for.

At the moment it awards ontracts to its own shareholder fi rms Balfour Beatty, Atkins and Bombardier.

Unlike Metronet, Tubelines awards all of its work on a competitively tendered basis.

Rail industry sources said that Tubelines' model had worked more effi ciently as more of its projects were running on time.

'The problem [with Metronet] is that the owners are the ones doing the job. If Balfour Beatty overruns, Metronet gets it in the neck from London Underground.

But when Metronet complains [to the shareholders], they say 'but we own you', ' said Adrian Lyons, director general of industry body the Railway Forum.

Metronet did not rule out the company changing its procurement methods, but said that it was too early to predict what Lezala would do.

A London Underground spokesman said: 'Ultimately, Metronet is not in control of managing its contracts. They've taken a radical decision but simply replacing the CEO doesn't deal with some of the more fundamental issues'.

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