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Tube Lines sale will see fewer station closures

London Underground (LU) this week claimed that weekend closures for the upgrade of the Northern Line will be slashed following its purchase of upgrade contractor Tube Lines.

LU managing director Mike Brown told the London Assembly’s transport committee that he would “urgently” look at the proposed closures and “significantly reduce” their number if Transport for London (TfL) purchases Tube Lines as planned.

Weekend closures

Tube Lines had previously infuriated TfL by saying it would need 82 weekend closures to carry out the 58km of track, signalling and station upgrade work along the Line (NCE 4 February).

When challenged by the committee if this could be brought down to just five, Brown said it would be “not far from that number”. He added that having a direct line of communication with the supply chain, and in particular contractor Thalys, would make the reduction possible.

“We’ve sat in formal meetings with them but really the only conversations of any benefit we’ve been able to have are in the corridor, in the lift or in the Gents”

Mike Brown

“[Until now] we’ve sat in formal meetings with them but really the only conversations of any benefit we’ve been able to have are in the corridor, in the lift or in the Gents.

“As we’re [now] getting the insider intelligence from Thalys we do get a different sense of what is the art of possible in doing this work,” he said.

Brown suggested that better contact would also help resolve issues over signalling that had arisen between LU and Tube Lines.

Madrid metro successes

LU had been keen for Tube Lines to consider installing new signalling over existing signalling to allow both to be run concurrently and so minimise disruption. Such a system has been used successfully on the Madrid metro.

But Tube Lines had argued that it was not possible because London’s system is too fragile.

“Sometimes things that are put up as barriers to doing things in a particular way actually fall away when you have the ability to have a direct discussion,” said Brown.

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