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Report blames LU failures for late JLE

LONDON UNDERGROUND failed to complete the Jubilee Line Extension to time and budget because it was 'not prepared to deliver a working railway rather than just a construction project', a Government report said last week.

The end of commission report on the JLE was compiled by Ove Arup Partnership for the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions.

It claims LU became unable to cope when the project emphasis moved from heavy civil works to the co-ordination of many mechanical and electrical contracts.

This was despite warnings of a possible six month delay at that stage from Arup, which was supervising progress on the 22km line for the Government.

The report claims the situation was further complicated as many of the M&E contracts had been procured with incomplete design packages and 'untried and unproven' technology.

These complications, together with government pressure to complete the line in time for the opening of the Millennium Dome, eventually led to the replacement of the in-house project management team with American firm Bechtel in September 1998.

The project was originally due for completion in 53 months, but by the time it opened in December 1999 the programme had taken 74 months. Costs had also soared from £2.1bn to £3.5bn - a 67% budget increase.

LU said in a statement issued this week, however, that there were 'no surprises' in the report, which represented a '20th century debate, whereas the Jubilee line is now a 21st century icon.'

It continued by saying: 'London Underground has now moved on with a new management team which is fully focused on improving services to our customers and facing the exciting challenges ahead.'

The Government agreed however that the report findings 'bear out the decision to proceed with Public Private Partnership for London Underground.'

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