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Tube Lines tightens grip on Alstom trains contract


LONDON UNDERGROUND contractor Tube Lines was this week set to win back closer control of the Alstom Northern Line train maintenance contract, a senior source at Transport for London (TFL) told NCE.

he current arrangement was set up as a 20 year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract between Alstom and London Underground (LU). It was inherited by Tube Lines from LU in 2003.

But Tube Lines operates under its own Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract with LU which has more stringent targets than those set up under the PFI contract (News last week).

But now Tube Lines is renegotiating the contract with Alstom to remove the anomoly, following an investigation into faulty Northern Line trains over the past month.

The investigation concluded that two emergency brake switches on each train in the Northern Line fleet were faulty and needed to be modified (see box).

Tube Lines claimed last week that poorly maintained trains meant the Northern Line was one of the worst performing services on the Underground.

The TFL source said that the renewed contract would stay with Alstom but would be more aligned with the PPP and allow Tube Lines to have more control.

This week it emerged that emergency brakes on Jubilee line trains had been modified following the problems with similar Northern Line trains. Tube Lines is responsible for Northern and Jubilee line trains.

Both Tube fleets were designed by contractor Alstom between 1994 and 1996 and include the same braking mechanism.

Tube Lines admitted this week that the same component on Jubilee Line trains had been upgraded as a 'best practice precautionary measure'.

'There has been no failure on the Jubilee line yet, but we're going on the theory that because it's the same mechanism, we should modify it, ' said Tube Lines Northern Line infrastructure manager Lee Jones.

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