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Up against time

Metronet, with its five shareholders Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bombardier, EDF Energy, RWE Thames Water, has some serious work on. Over the 30 years of its PPP deal it will invest £17bn in the Tube, £9bn in new capital spending. In the first seven years it is committed to spending £7bn, £1.3bn on station modernisation and refurbishment alone.

All 150 stations maintained by Metronet will be tackled in some form in the first period, with work about to hit a peak of activity.

'Similar to a PFI, the bulk of the capital investment is made in the first 10 years, ' explains Clive Coleman, Metronet's programme director for stations and civils.

'On all the programmes there has been a gradual ramp up as the new supply chain has got used to a new way of working. We are now on site on 14 stations, with 10 due to be completed by August this year. By December, 55 will be in construction, ' he says.

Work starts on the high profile Piccadilly Circus this month and Bond Street soon after.

Metronet's contract requires it to ensure that every station undergoes 'modernisation or enhanced refurbishment' once within the 30 year period. Within every 7.5 year review period, all stations not getting the full treatment must be at the least refurbished.

To cope with the workload 2,000 construction workers will be employed at the peak, 1,000 of whom will be electricians.

'We have a massive shortage which we are trying to find, ' says Coleman.

But the biggest threat to the programme is time - less than five hours a night is simply not enough to get the job done.

So Metronet is looking at more radical alternatives.

'We are looking at temporary closures on some stations, ' says Coleman. 'By doing that we can get the work done in two to three months rather than eight or nine.

That's a lot less nuisance for all concerned.'

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