Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Just like Brunel, Says Boss of Tube Delay Company

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Just like Brunel, Says Boss of Tube Delay Company

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW GILLIGAN;ANDREW GILLIGAN

THE CHIEF executive of controversial Tube renewal firm Metronet has compared himself and his company to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the greatest engineer in British history.

Writing in the latest issue of Metronet's staff magazine, Andrew Lezala says that he and the company have suffered "flak" because they are "innovators of world-scale projects" who are "challenging the status quo".

He adds: "It reminds me of one of the greatest innovators of the 19th century. Isambard Kingdom Brunel left his mark imprinted on our lives in numerous ways... the Herculean task that we are undertaking at Metronet might even be comparable to some extent.

Metronet, which is charging the taxpayer about [pounds sterling]20billion for its 30-year Tube refurbishment contract, has been attacked by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone as "the consortium of your nightmares" after a series of major failures.

Its weekend engineering work has repeatedly overrun into the Monday rush hour, causing chaos for travellers. Its station refurbishment programme is badly behind schedule and this summer Tube passengers suffered 20mph speed restrictions after Metronet failed to prepare rails for the warmer temperatures.

Mr Lezala's remarks were greeted with incredulity by transport experts last night.

"The daring and achievement of Brunel does lie at the opposite end of the spectrum to Metronet," said Tony Travers, professor of government at the London School of Economics.

"Brunel knocked down hills to create a straight line from London to Bristol and built the SS Great Eastern, which people didn't think would even float. At my local station, Metronet have been struggling for the best part of a year to replace a few tiles."

Mr Travers said the most "worrying" thing about Mr Lezala's comments was the "profound and revealing lack of self-awareness" they displayed about Metronet's inadequacies. …

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