Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Metronet Blunders Again

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Metronet Blunders Again

Article excerpt

METRONET was asking for it. The Tube maintenance company that so often lets weekend engineering work overrun into the Monday-morning rush hour promised amid some fanfare to repair and refurbish the Waterloo and City line - the Drain - by tomorrow morning.

Now we learn that the works will not, after all, be finished until the Monday after next at the earliest, missing the deadline by at least 10 days.

This is a major inconvenience to those users who had been counting on a return to normal after five months of switching to Tube or bus. It is also a negative verdict on the policy of allowing complete shutdown of a line rather than spreading out engineering work over weekends. That will have to be taken into account as TfL prepares for other major projects such as the resignalling of the Victoria line.

It is true that the task of repairing the 107-year-old line was a sizeable one, and that the other consortium, Tube Lines, also has a record of failing to complete upgrades on time. However, London Underground has previously accused Metronet of "spectacular" failure to manage basic engineering work, after incidents in which repair work itself damaged the Victoria line, affecting up to 100,000 commuters for two nights in a row. Certainly the fact that new signals have proved a problem on what should be a simple shuttle line between two stations will infuriate many Drain travellers.

We already know that London's Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, would like to sack the company but is unable to do so, thanks to the contractual arrangements created by the Public Private Partnership. So, as ever, the ultimate responsibility for the current state of affairs lies with the Chancellor who imposed the PPP, Gordon Brown.

Awkward truths

BLACK public figures who take a stand on controversial issues always tend to risk a greater backlash than their white counterparts, an unfortunate tendency exemplified by two major rows today. The latest comments of Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, about the Notting Hill carnival - that it does not reflect the lives of most black people - are surely a simple statement of fact. …

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