Metronet - CMT - Tube safety, PPP disaster and emergency services .. questions after Mile End still to be answered
Shortly after 09:00 hrs on 5th July 2007 a westbound Central Line train in the tunnel between Mile End and Bethnal Green hit a tarpaulin on the line. Five axles of the train derailed.
Over eight hundred passengers were evacuated from the train in the accident and the one following, (in temperatures up to 100 F). A small number of minor injuries and one more serious injuries resulted not from the accident but during the evacuation of the passengers along the tunnel - which took over two hours. Eleven peope attended hospital. The train, track and signalling equipment all suffered damage. See Daily Mail report
Brian Cooke, chairman of London TravelWatch, wrote to Metronet CEO Andrew Lezala accusing him of being in charge of "continued incompetence and failures" that could lead to "further safety-related incidents" and called for them to resign and "London would be better served by your terminating the contacts you have and allowing them to be re-let". See full text of letter here.
The maintenance and upgrading of London Underground is a responsibility of the now crisis-hit and bankrupt (from July 18th) Metronet consortium / PPP.
The RMT Union warned London Underground in October and November 2006, and in May this year that materials stored in a bolt-hole between Mile End and Bethnal Green were not secure which had resulted in several rported accidents where trains were striking obstructions on the track.
London Underground claimed they had investigated the warnings about the storage. But no safety reps were present during this. Metronet at the time offered London Underground assurances and this was accepted. The letter sent in May, Metronet promised it would "physically inspect all storage areas", saying any items too close to the tracks or not stored properly would be "removed or secured for future removal". (In January 2004 both Metronet Rail's companies, Metronet Rail BCV Ltd and Metronet Rail SSL Ltd, obtained ISO 9001:2000 certification for its Quality Management System. )
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said at the time, that it was the fourth incident in 18 months in the same area where private contractors were operating.
He said, “This union has raised concerns over the bad storage of equipment by contractors in this area and wrote to London Underground back in April demanding an investigation, yet nothing has been done.
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, said, “This incident should underscore to the government, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the management of the emergency services that our transport system and fire and ambulance services require proper levels of staffing."
“There should be no more talk of running down staffing levels on the tube or of ‘reorganising’ fire services by cutting appliances—as the GLA did at Bethnal Green station, which was central to the emergency response. "
“It is also apparent that this incident is connected to the chaos wrought by the part-privatisation of the tube under Gordon Brown’s PPP scheme. "
“I join RMT general secretary Bob Crow in calling on Ken Livingstone to immediately bring the contracts to maintain and renew the tube’s infrastructure back in house.” george also raised an Early Day Motion (EDM 1862) which was signed by a total of 16 MPs and has been suspended. (presumably whilst the Rail Accident Investgation Branch investigate the accident)
"Don't say we didn't warn you" says Bob in Railnews in August (pic cick to enlarge) - Metronet's shareholders staked £350 Mn. which was dwarfed by public expenditure of £3.3 BILLION in the first 3 years (Some £7 billion is due to be spent over the first 7.5 years alone - on new trains, track, signalling and refurbished and modernised stations. ) - now the public purse is left with £2 Billion debt, racking up interest and have to fun d the administration at a cost of at least £30 Mn. a week.
Shareholders Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bombardier, French State owned EDF Energy, and RWE Thames Water gave all the contracts to themselves, ( and were given £275 Mn. start up costs) waltzed off with £157 Mn. profits and now wait whilst someone else picks up the pieces. God knows what the lawyers who spent over £500Mn drawing up the PPP did to protect the public interest and ensure the "transfer of risk".
Well we do know - they simply ignored it.... however if you read the Transport for London notice issued about the Metronet Administration in the form of FAQ's youwill find two interesting and important details..
2. How is the Administration being funded?
Sufficient funds have been made available to enable the Administrators to ensure that Metronet continues to operate throughout the period of its administration. (Note : No mention whether it's from the Tooth Fairy or the tax-payer)
14. Does the Metronet Administration affect the arrangements for safety?
No, the Metronet Administration does not affect this. Metronet will continue to operate entirely as normal and all safety protocols and procedures will continue.
Certain individuals within Metronet are allocated specific roles as part of the safety management system. These individuals will continue to operate as normal to ensure safety standards are maintained as normal.
So, that's alright then.
Interesting FACTOID from Metronet Matters Issue 17 June 2007
London has always been difficult terrain for tunnellers,with so many buried rivers and the awkward nature of clay. It’s been made a lot more difficult by the rising water-table, caused by the closure of almost every borehole following the collapse of manufacturing. The consequences for the London Underground is that the pumps which keep the tunnels dry have to work longer and harder, and their monitoring becomes even more vital – if the pumps stopped at Victoria services on several lines could be lost.