Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440-459)|
WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2001
440. Thank you for that. The difficulty is that
you have identified the whole nub of the argument, have you not,
that the safety case that you have accepted is the safety case
in relation to one structure but it is very clear that in future
you are going to have to look at something which is completely
(Kate Timms) That is true, but it is also the case
that the work that has been done for version 3.0 paves the way
for the work that we will have to do for 3.1.
441. I do not think anyone would dispute that,
but what is interesting is how much. Mr Coleman, you are giving
indications that you would like to comment. Is that ground that
will be altered by the different relationships of the private
companies to London Underground after the changes?
(Mr Coleman) There will certainly have to be changes
to the safety case that we have accepted because the one we have
accepted is based on all the companies being within the same group,
so that is a rather different position from what is being proposed.
The extent of the change is really a matter for the Underground
to propose. We have not yet been presented with the material change
which there will be to the version of the safety case we have
442. Is it likely to be much more complicated?
(Mr Coleman) It is difficult to say. I would expect
that it is not going to be as much of a change as we have just
taken, but the implications of the change are much more severe.
The second part of the work we have to do is in fact all about
field work. A lot of what we have done in the last year has been
looking at the systems and whether they are capable in principle
of delivering. What we have to do now is an amount of field work
which will feed into the decision which we will have to take in
relation to the next version. There are several strands that come
together. One is the change to the safety case which may not,
in the extent of words changed, be that great, but we need also
to look at other things. One of those things is how well is all
this working on the ground? That seems to me to be quite fundamental
before we go to what is a fairly irrevocable step forward.
443. Could I question you about the gap between
principle and practice, because you have quite rightly pointed
that out? One is that the RMT Union in particular expressed concern
that in a number of areas London Underground are not complying
with their existing safety case and therefore the prospect that
they will be able to comply with a more complicated one by definition
is more remote. What is your reaction to those concerns?
(Mr Coleman) The extent to which they are going to
be able to comply with the new safety case is something that will
have to be tested. Remember that some of the changes which are
in this safety case cannot be looked at on the ground because
they are prevented from applying them until we have accepted the
safety case. In other words they have to comply with the safety
case that is now well over a year old at this moment. There is
a bit of a chicken and egg situation here. From our perspective
we need to look, we are going to look, at how well these systems
are in place and we have been very grateful for the input from
the trade unions who have helped us quite a lot in identifying
the areas that we need to look at.
Mr Stevenson: So when will version 3.0 trigger
444. Version 3.1?
(Mr Coleman) No. We have just accepted version 3.0.
It is for the Underground now to set a date by which that will
then be in place. They were looking at one or two months I think.
445. From when?
(Mr Coleman) From the time of acceptance.
446. From 3 December?
(Mr Coleman) But I have not got a date with me today.
I think we might be able to provide that afterwards.
447. It is quite important because it affects
my next question. My next question was going to be what arrangements
you are making to monitor this complicated business. If you do
not know when it is going to start you will hardly know when you
are going to have your monitoring provisions in place.
(Mr Coleman) That is true but there are a number of
things we can look at now. We are in fact starting the process
of doing the field work now. It is not just the new things. It
is the things which we want to check that have arisen from our
assessment. There are two sets of things: things that should be
in place now, which we can look at now, and things which are going
to be in place which we can look at when they are being implemented.
We have set up a plan which is going to look at about a dozen
very key areas to do some active field work, and that field work
is going to be crucial.
448. What kind of key areas, Mr Coleman?
(Mr Coleman) The priority areas are things like maintenance
arrangements, contractor management, standards, assurance of output.
There are a number of other topics, change management, competence
management. All of those things we believe we need to look at
in great detail.
449. Forgive me but it is almost inevitable
that members of this Committee will refer to evidence we received
about what happened with Railtrack and its complete lack of monitoring
and controlling its subcontractors. Presumably you are going to
have subcontractors under this new and more complicated regime
if it happens. How are you going to ensure as an organisation
that the same problems, in some case tragic problems, that arose
as a result of the complete lack of that company to monitor and
control its subcontractors in terms of health and safety, will
(Mr Coleman) One of the things is that one must learn
from what has gone before. All the process which has gone into
looking at what is before us now has taken into account some of
the lessons which we have learned in the past.
450. Give me some examples.
(Mr Coleman) In relation to the contractor management
the arrangements for contractor monitoring, for contractor management,
through what is termed the contractor safety case, what is envisaged
is that the Infraco will have a safety case which the Underground
will monitor and control as part of its way of assuring itself
that the main contractor will deliver what it intends to deliver
and so would work in that area as looking at whether this is likely
to be able to achieve the control which you rightly say needs
to be there. That is an area where I am saying to you we need
to look in practice now, having looked at what is being proposed
for the existing arrangements, and we now need to look at how
well that is in place and to take a view as to whether that is
likely to deliver adequate control in the new environment.
451. That sounds very reassuring but are you
saying that as things stand today the Health and Safety Executive
has not got within its detailed knowledge how the new Infracos
are going to monitor and control from a health and safety point
of view their subcontractors? Are you in a position to have detailed
knowledge of mechanisms now or not?
(Mr Coleman) We have a large amount of knowledge now
from the assessment we have been doing over the best part of a
year, and indeed the report which Kate Timms mentioned will outline
exactly what we have done in that process. We do need to add to
what we have done to do more work in terms of whether it is actually
delivering on the ground. Whatever we have looked at in terms
of principle, as we move towards a situation where the relationships
changeand the relationships will change as it moves into
a contractual relationshipthose procedures have to be robust
because otherwise, as you quite rightly say, there will be no
452. So we are not assuming that the same sort
of situation that developed in Railtrack will not develop in London
Underground? You will remember that we took evidence from you
and indeed you yourself were very concerned about the fact that
the safety case would be given to one person on the theory that
there would be some kind of continuing line of responsibility
and that did not prove to be the case.
(Mr Coleman) No, and what we have been doing is learning
the lessons from some of that. The situation here I think is very
different from the Railtrack situation. The effort that has gone
in in terms of devising very specific contract monitoring and
control arrangements between the Underground and at the moment
subsidiary Infraco companies I think will be substantially different
in kind from the kind of contractual relationships which Railtrack
put in place at the time of privatisation.
453. Forgive me, but my questions were not directed
at the Infracos. They were directed at the subcontractors that
the Infracos may employ. Can we be clear: is that what we are
(Mr Coleman) Of course within the Infracos' own procedures
they have to control their subcontractors because they need to
satisfy whoever is in control of the Underground that what is
being done is delivering safety. This is all done through the
management systems which are in place in order to assure the outputs
which are being delivered.
454. If you had two months only to monitor version
3.0 is that enough to prove that the new systems are going to
(Mr Coleman) We have a programme of work which we
are setting out through to February.
455. Is the timetable still the same one, March
(Mr Coleman) We have been advised that that is the
broad timetable and we will aim to do the work in order to form
a view on that timescale.
456. So are you expecting version 3.1 to be
on schedule in March 2002?
(Mr Coleman) I am expecting to receive the submission
from the Underground. We will then assess it. We will do the field
work. We will then bring that together to say whether in fact
we think that the case for safety has been made out. If it has
been made out, fine, but we will take as much time as is necessary
in order to form a view. As you probably have already realised,
the anticipated timescales for the work we have just done have
been extended because we needed to do that work, and if we have
to do that again we will do so.
457. Who would be liable, in which case who
would you prosecute, in the event of an accident involving a London
Underground train under the PPP?
(Mr Coleman) The prime responsibility for safety on
the Underground will be with the safety case holder which is London
Underground, because they are the ones who are running the system.
They will run all the trains. They will operate the stations.
They are in overall control. That does not of course mean that
other people cannot be liable because if, in the event of an incident,
it was caused by somebody else's negligence and somebody else
failing to do what they should have done under the law, you can
have the situation (which is quite common in health and safety
law) of more than one party being held to be liable under the
criminal law for what they have done or not done.
458. Would you be party to the details of the
contract and would you be in a position to assess whether bonuses
for good performance were in conflict with safety standards?
(Mr Coleman) Yes, we have examined that. At one stage
when we saw a draft contract we looked at that in quite some detail
and we sent that out to our own lawyers. Our interest in looking
at the contract is, does this contract support the safety control
arrangements which are within the safety case? Is there contractual
conflict? We are not too worried about commercial aspects within
the contract except in so far as they interfere with safety control.
We got that work done. Our lawyers made some suggestions as to
how the contract could be improved in order to improve the inter-relationship,
and I understand that those changes were made. But of course the
contract (again as I understand it) has been changed since that
time and we are expecting, when we see the final form of the contract,
to send that back to lawyers to ask effectively the same questions
because we understand that the contract may well have moved on
a little since we assessed the detailed contract. It is something
we know we have to do because one of the pieces of work that is
going to come together in looking at version 3.1, which would
be the PPP safety case, is to form a view that there is nothing
in the contract that would provide these conflicts of legal responsibilities,
one in the contract and one in the safety case. We want to make
sure that they are on all fours one with another.
459. Who will make the final assessment on whether
other aspects of the contract are not in conflict with safety
(Mr Coleman) We will look at our bits. I can only
imagine that the normal arrangements will apply and that those
who are responsible for signing the contract will form their own
assessment as to whether it gives them what they need.