Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10300 - 10319)

  10300. LORD SNAPE: Which is very busy!
  (Mr Berryman) It is a very busy line! The idea is not to jump into the swimming pool with lead weights tied round their legs until they have learnt how to swim. They are going to try the system progressively in more complicated areas and I do not think it will happen at Slough unless it has been demonstrated that it really does work. I think it is worth just saying a few words about how the modelling works. A lot of the causes of delay in the model are due to perturbations caused by other aspects of the railway, so trains with which Crossrail trains interact make a big difference to the lateness which is experienced by Crossrail trains. Network Rail are improving already very significantly their performance, but it is the Great Western that is the problem and they are significantly improving the Great Western at the moment and they are achieving much higher figures than those which were used when the model was being prepared. As you probably know, all of their high-speed trains have been refurbished, they have got rid of some of their less reliable suburban stock, they have improved their maintenance standards and there are many further improvements to come on that line. We are confident that, with improved rolling stock, improved maintenance standards and better train planning, we can achieve the kinds of numbers that we are talking about, and the Office of the Rail Regulator has accepted that that is a reasonable statement.

  10301. LORD BERKELEY: Mr Berryman, thank you very much. That is all I have to question you on.


  10302. LORD SNAPE: You did say in reply to one of Lord Berkeley's questions, Mr Berryman, that some works were required or will be required to meet, I presume you meant, the 92 per cent PPM to which you referred.

  (Mr Berryman) Yes.

  10303. Would those works which you see as being essential be included? If we take Acton as happening and Heathrow as a given, would those essential works to which you have referred include any or all of the four on the list?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, my expectation, my Lord, is that, if the traffic flows remain as they are and everything else remains as it is, those four would be required and we would need to do them.

  10304. So I am tempted to ask then, why are we having this debate? If you need these to be done anyway, why does the Promoter not—and I see Mr Elvin stirring uneasily here!
  (Mr Berryman) Our issue is purely the need to retain flexibility to make sure that we do not get committed to doing something which, in the event, proves to be not necessary. We will have to do substantial works on the existing railway lines to achieve the standard of reliability and the throughput that we want to achieve. I do not want anybody to be in any doubt about that.

  10305. Do you see, in those works, the four outstanding ones of the six we are referring to this afternoon?
  (Mr Berryman) As things stand today, I would say those four would be certainly on the list, together with Maidenhead and a couple of other rather smaller works that are needed.

  10306. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: My note was all these plus some others.
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, I would imagine so, my Lord.

  10307. MR ELVIN: Your Lordships are doing my re-examination for me!

  10308. LORD SNAPE: Well, we are just worried about your line of re-examination, you see, and that is why we are establishing ours first!

  10309. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Just on the timetabling now of contracts to be let in 2009—
  (Mr Berryman) Well, as you are aware, the process of letting contracts with the EU Rules and so on is quite a protracted job these days and it will probably take us over a year to actually let contracts.

  10310. You will have to provide a mass of detail to Europe and so on in inviting tenders. When will you be putting that information into the process for people to consider whether they want to bid because it sounds to me as if the amount of flexibility left for you on this is fairly small?
  (Mr Berryman) The first two, they are called OJEU notices, which are for the first tenders, have already gone out, my Lord, and we are actually calling tenders for the first two packages of works.

  10311. This is in advance of Her Majesty?
  (Mr Berryman) Well, my Lord, the process is rather protracted, as I said, and there is no question of letting a contract before Royal Assent.

  10312. But it is under way?
  (Mr Berryman) So what we are doing is pre-qualifying contractors at the moment which is a slightly different issue from letting the contracts, but I am just making the point that the process has already started in some respects and that will gather pace in the year after we get Royal Assent. Certainly for the large works, like the Heathrow access, the time is not long and we will need either to come to a conclusion one way or the other with BAA Limited and be clear what we are doing.

  10313. Surely within the next 12 months, is it?
  (Mr Berryman) As far as that particular one is concerned, yes.

  10314. And the others?
  (Mr Berryman) The others, for example, the Chadwell Heath loop, we probably would not need to make a decision for four or five years, but certainly the Acton dive-under and the Heathrow access we would have to decide pretty soon.

Re-examined by MR ELVIN

  10315. MR ELVIN: Well, your Lordships have done my first three questions, but, Mr Berryman, I was going to ask you the same question which is just to get some idea for how much flexibility we actually want. You have made it clear that the Acton dive-under, well, that is committed anyway, and the Heathrow access will have to resolve itself within the next year or so?

  (Mr Berryman) That is right, yes.

  10316. With regard to the others, the timescale, you think, is in the order of three to four years? Is that right?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, it is. Hanwell Bridge sidings has got complicated staged works, so that may be the next one to need to be fixed. West Drayton and West Ealing—there will be advantages in doing West Ealing early because we could stop the trains going into Paddington now and that would help our possession strategy.

  10317. We might wait until we get Royal Assent, Mr Berryman!
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, sorry, my Lords, I keep forgetting!

  10318. We can do the procurement process without letting the contracts, but we cannot let the contracts without the procurement process. Is that right?
  (Mr Berryman) That is correct.

  10319. Can I then just ask this question: in order to achieve the 92 per cent PPM, that assumes in the modelling at the moment most of the Bill works, though not absolutely every one?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, that is correct.

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