Examination of witnesses (Questions 1
WEDNESDAY 20 OCTOBER 1999
TUNNICLIFFE CBE, MR
SMITH and MR
1. Mr Tunnicliffe, could I welcome you yet again
to this Committee. You will be deeply sorry to know that the Chairman,
Mr Kaufman, is unfortunately detained in Manchester. He will be
here later, but I am chairing the Committee in the meantime. Mr
Tunnicliffe, would you like firstly to introduce your colleagues
and if you have an opening statement, we would be glad to hear
it and then we will ask questions on it.
(Mr Tunnicliffe) Thank you very much, Chairman. My
name is Denis Tunnicliffe and I am the Chief Executive of London
Transport and the Chairman of London Underground Limited. On my
right is Mr Derek Smith. He is the Managing Director of London
Underground Limited. On my further right is Mr Richard Smith who
is the Director of Transport Strategy for London Transport and
in that role he has a responsibility for multi-modal matters,
ticketing, contingency plans. On my left is Clive Hodson. He is
the Managing Director of London Transport Buses and is responsible
for the bus provision and for our river activities. Thank you
for inviting me to make an opening statement. I do not have very
much to add to our written evidence, except insomuch as it is
now later and I have further information on the opening of the
Jubilee Line Extension. As you will know, we have opened the Jubilee
Line Extension from Stratford through to Waterloo and we are stopping
at all stations, except Southwark. There are four areas that we
need to tackle to complete the full opening of the line. The first
is the day-to-day reliability of the service. All features of
the line are performing well. In early weeks there were some delays
related to the staff learning the new procedures and there were
significant delays relating to the fragile nature of the signalling
system. We are working hard on making the signalling system more
robust by a series of upgrades and perhaps one of the most important
upgrades will be completed this weekend. We would expect to have
a reasonably robust system in place by the Millennium. The next
key objective is to run the railway in commercial service from
Stratford all the way through past Green Park to Stanmore. Our
target to achieve that is the end of this month. However, there
are a number of hurdles to overcome before that can be done and
it may be delayed for a few days, but it should certainly take
place in the early part of November. That will of course achieve
the lion's share of the transport objectives of the line. The
remaining stations will be Southwark and Westminster. Southwark,
we would hope to open to commercial service in the first half
of November and we are reasonably confident about that. Westminster
is proving more difficult. We are trying to achieve an opening
in November, but the essential strategy to achieve the completion
of Westminster was to direct additional resources released from
the rest of the line and see an acceleration in performance, particularly
in the electrical areas, including fire systems and lighting systems.
As yet, we have not seen as much of an improvement in performance
in those areas as we would have hoped and, therefore, we are not
as confident as we would like to be that we will make that late
November target. We will be doing all we can to achieve the earliest
possible opening of Westminster and we are certainly doing our
best to open it for the Millennium.
2. Good morning. When you last appeared before
us, Mr Tunnicliffe, on the 22nd November 1998, I think it was,
you did state then that the final phase of the Jubilee Line Extension
would be completed fully by the end of this month. Now, from your
opening statement, it appears that there are further troubles
and that this is not going to happen. You mentioned November and
of course later for Westminster station, so there is not going
to be a full service operating by the end of the month as you
promised. Is that right?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) That is correct.
3. Is that because of other troubles with the
(Mr Tunnicliffe) In these final two stations, we have
certainly had productivity problems with the electrical work force
and, as you know, the AEEU had some quite significant problems,
internal problems, from which we suffered. We had, I think, two
or three one-day stoppages, but it also had an overall effect
on the general enthusiasm of the electrical work force.
4. Are there any troubles at the moment?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) There are no industrial relations
troubles at the moment, but the productivity of the electrical
work force is not what we would wish for or had expected.
5. And looking to the future when the line is
up and running and the Dome is in being and fully operative, what
would happen if something went wrong within the year 2000, if
something happened to the line again? If it failed to operate,
how would people get to the Dome and what contingency plans have
you got for that?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) In a sense I think you linked the
two ideas together, so I will just firstly assure you that when
the line fully opens, its maintenance will be the responsibility
of a different work force from the work force which essentially
built it and that work force is in place through a series of maintenance
contracts and that work force will be wholly able to react quickly
to any problems that may emerge. I would now like to turn to Richard
Smith who is responsible for the development of our contingency
(Mr Richard Smith) If we look at the failures we have
had so far, very rarely did we have no Jubilee Line, but too frequently
still we have one half or the other either side of the Dome not
operating, so we have a control process which is making sure that,
whether coming to or going from the Dome, we are informing our
passengers and national rail passengers as early as possible what
services are available. It may be that we are directing people
to Stratford rather than Waterloo, for example, but very rarely
have we not had either one part or the other of the Jubilee Line
open and the Jubilee Line either way has adequate capacity to
carry people to and from the Dome. However, clearly there may
be, and our forecasts say it will happen very occasionally, but
there may be occasions when, for example, North Greenwich itself
is closed. We have laid on a contingency bus fleet which will
be sitting, waiting to be brought into action, and it is worth
emphasising that they will complement all of the other modes,
the river services, the Millennium Transit to Charlton, the links
to Greenwich and DLR from Greenwich. We have a fleet that will
be there ready to get people away if there is a problem at the
Dome itself or indeed to get people to the Dome if there is a
problem on the way. Clearly we cannot sensibly provide the capacity
of the Jubilee Line sitting, waiting in a car park, so there will
be extended delays for people. We are confident that we can get
people to and from safely and adequately. One of the things that
we will be revisiting in literally the weeks ahead in the light
of the reliability of the line, because at the moment we are only
planning on the basis of single-event days at the Dome, and when
there are two-event days at the Dome, because people will be there
later in the evening, we need to ask, "Have we got adequate
contingency?", and we will be revisiting that to see whether
we should have more buses sitting, waiting, and hopefully never
to be used, but to make sure that if in the event they are, we
are able to get people to and from safely, so there is a contingency
plan. They are detailed processes and we have done detailed planning
and desktop exercises to make sure that the information gets through
to the people in the right place and in a timely way before they
are three-quarters of the way there and stuck somewhere where
they would rather not be.
6. I have a final question on river transport
actually. Have we now got a combined ticket for the river transport
and the Dome and if so, how are they going to be sold or are they
being sold at present?
(Mr Richard Smith) We do not have quite that. What
we do have, and I have a few copies here and it is mentioned in
the leaflet I can give you, we have produced a Millennium Card,
as we have described it, which includes all of London Transport
services, the Docklands Light Railway, and all of the Connex services
from Central London, and it includes a concession on the river
services for £3.50 per person, adult, so that will give a
concession to river service users. It is not wholly included,
but it gives you a cheaper trip on the river services than otherwise
would be available.
7. So they have to pay more for that?
(Mr Richard Smith) They are having to pay a supplement
for the river service if they want to use it.
8. Do we know how much that is?
(Mr Hodson) On the shuttle between the Dome and Greenwich
Pier, the normal adult fare would be £1.90, and the discounted
fare for that ticket will be 60 pence. For a child, the normal
fare would have been £1 and with that discounted card, the
fare will be 30 pence. On the Millennium Express from Waterloo/Blackfriars
to the Dome, the fare offered by City Cruises, normally the adult
single would be £6.75 and at the discounted fare it will
be £4.75. For a child, the normal fare is £4 and that
will then be £3. An adult return is £8.40 and the discounted
fare is £7.40. A child return is £5.20 and the discounted
fare is £4.70.
9. So before you actually get to the Dome and
pay to go in, you are paying about £5 or £6?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) Only if you use the river, but the
essence of the river service is that with the trip itself you
are partly buying in an additional increment of entertainment,
whereas if you are going by the tube, we are providing pure transport.
Mr Wyatt: There is no entertainment on
10. Mr Tunnicliffe, I think now you have appeared
before this Committee three times, or this is your third occasion,
if I remember correctly. On each occasion you have tried to instil
confidence in the opening of the Jubilee Line and on each occasion
you have failed because you have given us dates that have not
actually materialised. You appear before us again today and have
told us once more that you are, in your words, reasonably confident
that you will open Southwark in the first half of November and
not as confident that you will open Westminster by the end of
November, and that is despite the fact that you gave us an assurance
in the past that it would all be completed by October this year.
Why should we believe you now when you have not been able to convince
us in the past?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) I have no reason to know why you
should believe me now other than the extent to which parts of
the railway have opened and it would seem reasonably logical to
look at the rate at which they have opened and to conclude that
the rest of it is likely to open in a reasonably soon timescale.
11. Reasonably soon? Can we take that as being
definitely before the Millennium?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) The number of agencies involved in
opening a railway and the number of systems to be approved means
that there are always degrees of risk against any timescale, as
I know to my personal cost. We have high confidence about through-running
and we have high confidence about Southwark and, as I have explained,
Westminster is more complex, there is more to be done and we are
less confident about Westminster.
12. The problems that you are facing now, were
these problems that you foresaw a year ago?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) Yes, I think they were, but there
were many more problems a year ago. Perhaps the best way of describing
it is that the problems that we face now tend to be about sheer
volume of activity which is foreseeable which we have done before,
processes we have done before and hence in a sense processes we
can be confident will be successfully executed, but still there
is clearly a degree of a question mark over when. When I was here
a year ago we still had quite a wide range, I think if you look
back at the evidence, of technical challenges. All the difficult
technical challenges have been overcome and we have no big issues
that are going to stop us. We believed at that time that we would
solve all the big issues and that has turned out to be true and
we have solved all the big issues, but we still have more volume
and less performance than we predicted.
13. I would have thought it was reasonable to
have taken a certain amount of these technical problems into account
in the last few months and to have assumed that you would have
been able to overcome these in time to open earlier than we believe
that you may open. What other budget changes have been made because
of this overrun? How much are you now over budget?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) I believe the last time I was here
I said in today's money that the budget was £2.1 billion.
I will have to check that. We presently estimate the final cost
will be £3.5 billion, but that continues to be an estimate.
Some of it will be as a result of opening later. Most of it is
a better understanding of the claims that our contractors are
making. I believe when I was here last time I said £3.2 billion.
14. Would it be possible for you to provide
maybe in confidence to this Committee a breakdown of where that
over-budget has come from, whether it is contractors' claims or
whether it is because of the delay in opening?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) I could certainly, under the two
heads of claims and delay, assign roughly the additional £300
million. I cannot do it now, but I can certainly do a note to
15. I would like to ask a question about the
river passenger service and the legacy. Could you tell us where
we are with the completion of Blackfriars Pier?
(Mr Hodson) The pier is currently under construction
and we hope that it will be completed by the end of December.
16. By the end of December?
(Mr Hodson) Yes.
17. In your evidence before you have said the
end of November.
(Mr Hodson) We believe it will be towards the end
18. So that may not open as well, is what you
(Mr Hodson) I have no reason to suspect that it will
not open. It should be open.
19. What is the delay then? What is the month
delay since you last gave evidence?
(Mr Hodson) Now the work is being executed, there
are some piling difficulties at Blackfriars which we are talking
to the contractors about.