Tube contractor Metronet faces a fine of at least £715,000 after completing the £40M Waterloo and City Line upgrade ten days late.
Failure to open on time is another blow to the contractor's already tarnished reputation. The project was intended to counter the contractor's poor track record by showing that it can deliver projects on time and to budget. London Mayor Ken Livingstone said this week that he was not surprised that the project had been delivered late. 'We didn't believe Metronet would open the line on 1 September. But being just one week late on a five month contract is a breakthrough - we expected them to be two or three months late.'However, announcing news of the delay at his weekly press briefing Livingstone warned that if Metronet's performance did not improve by the end of the year he would begin talks with the government to resolve the situation.Metronet paid London Underground (LUL) £3M for the privilege of carrying out the work during a five month closure of the line, instead of doing it piecemeal during overnight engineering hours (NCE 9 March). The model was to have been used across other sections on the network.A Metronet spokesman accepted that the delayed opening was a disappointment. 'Yes, there was a lot riding on our reputation on this, but what we've built is of good quality. It's just regrettable that it's a few days late,' he addedService on the line was supposed to resume on 1 September, but will now be pushed back to at least 11 September while final line testing and driver training takes place.He said that problems with the signalling were encountered during the commissioning phase had caused the delay. 'Signalling is always a risk because you can only test it when the whole track has been completed. It was always going to be a tight programme with little slack,' he said. The line upgrade involved replacement of 4.3km of bullhead rails on longitudinal timber sleepers with flat bottomed rails on concrete cross sleepers. A new signalling system was also installed to allow trains to run closer together. Metronet's poor performance has been under scrutiny by client LUL since its Public Private Partnership contract was signed in 2003. In July it reported that the contractor had only completed 14 out of 35 stations, all of which were delayed (NCE 27 July) and has since issued a formal warning for poor progress on station upgrades - which could lead to withdrawal of the contract.Metronet's performance is also being reviewed by the Office of Rail Regulation.