Transport and Logistics Public Private Passengers ith the greatest respect to this influential weeks and strengthened 130-year-old tunnels under W publication, and to its 20,000 well- informed readers, I would have preferred not to be writing the article that you now see laid out High Street Kensington inside 100 days. Without this method of working, tens of thousands of Tube passengers in south and west London would have over the following pages. Not that I do not believe faced delays and disruption lasting years not months. passionately in every one of these words that sets out There are also many other examples of how the public our case for the long-running attempt to revitalise and private sectors are working together to modernise London Underground through partnership with, and the 140-year-old system and bring real benefits investment from, the private sector. for passengers. Witness the well-documented It’s just that instead of outlining this case history, I improvements to the Northern Line - the much- would much rather be out on the Tube network, seeing mocked ‘Misery Line’ of old - thanks to the provision of what that massive £13bn cash injection would already more than 100 new trains, built and maintained by the have been doing to improve the lives of the three private contractors Alstom. million people using our service every day. Others in the series of wide-ranging private finance Derek Smith, Forgive my frustration, but the fact that I am writing initiatives are tackling key issues across the Underground network, such as reducing congestion Chairman of this in December 2001 underlines what an opportunity and crime and improving train information and ticket has been missed to transform public transport in the London machines. Already these joint enterprises have begun capital, improve national network links and, by Underground extension, to boost London’s economy and that of the to bear fruit - encouraging indications for the new era argues that PPP UK as a whole. to come. In the last year alone, there have been four million fewer transactions at station ticket windows, is the solution I have no doubt that this transformation will happen, thanks partly to new, improved machines that help cut for the London hopefully starting within three or four months from waiting and journey times for passengers. Meanwhile, Underground… now. But two long years will have been wasted by then another new British Transport Police station is under - precious time that would have seen some £2.6bn of construction - at Tottenham Court Road - further the initial investment from private partners beginning strengthening the resources of the force that has cut to turn back the Tube’s long years of decay and delay. pickpocketing crime to a record low. This vital groundwork of renewing the tracks and There is no question that these joint projects have been signalling systems to deliver faster, more reliable trains good for London Underground and therefore good for and to ease congestion - the keystones to a better Tube the people who have to rely on us, day in, day out, no - should have been underway from April 2000. Now matter what political posturing is taking place we are still waiting to see whether a start can finally be off-stage. made in April 2002. Just think, though, how much better things might That is particularly galling when during that time, have been by now had we had been allowed to get on opponents of the PPP will have seen key renovation with the job rather than waste time and money on projects - forerunners for the publicly run, privately High Court cases. Instead, in December, rather than built Tube - delivered on time, on budget and - preparing for a third year of investment, we found most significantly - making a real difference to the ourselves merely hoping to complete commercial travelling public. negotiations and receive final prices from the Under the supervision of the Infracos - infrastructure preferred bidders. The investment plans were then to companies that are crucial cogs in restructuring the be scrutinised to establish whether they offered way London Underground will be run - engineers, value for money - a consideration second only to managers and construction workers combined to safety in what will be the world’s biggest underground replace a 30-year-old crossover at Brixton in three renewal programme. 100 Transport and Logistics q Infrastructure - competitively tendered private sector contracts to go to Infracos, which would invest in, maintain and modernise the network. Bonuses would be paid for work certified and completed ahead of schedule; penalties incurred for failure to deliver on time or for asset failures This division of operations and infrastructure and the inclusion of maintenance within the management of ‘infrastructure’ were clearly envisaged when the Deputy Prime Minister made his announcement. It was these specific issues that were to become significant points of difference between the pro and anti PPP lobbies over the following three years. While opponents of the PPP mounted their campaign, London Underground carried on doing what was in the best interests of the people that matter most: running ‘Without this By now, the process should have advanced to the next the service for the passengers, despite what was method of stage, with a further top-to-bottom review of the happening ‘above ground.’ working, tens objectives, and culminating in a ‘final’ decision in January 2002. At that point, the contracts could be Efforts were also continuing to hone the PPP process. of thousands Early in 1998, we started work on the detailed design signed and would be expected to take effect some two of Tube to three months later - perhaps hitting that April date of LUL and the Infracos and began appointing teams of key advisers. Later that year we took market soundings passengers in mentioned earlier. and hosted an industry conference into how best to south and west Two other dates play a significant part in the whole PPP process which has been set out publicly in great implement the PPP. London would detail over the past four years. One relates to London This feedback indicated a preference for three separate have faced Underground’s problem and the other to a solution Infracos as the best way forward for a better service. delays and that we believe will deliver the safe, quick, clean, Other options were evaluated but the preferred model disruption reliable Tube network London demands and deserves. stood up best to a series of rigorous tests. lasting years The first is 9 January 1863 - birth of the world’s first By early 1999, the key PPP structure was in place and underground railway - and a daily reminder that many not months.’ from then on, the workload and the pace increased. of the problems we face in the 21st Century stem from Initial bids were invited for the Deep Tube lines; failure to improve a railway built largely in the 19th ‘shadow running’ began - detailed preparation for Century. In time, the second date might prove just as transfer to the private sector; service contracts were significant: 1 May 1997, when with the election of a signed; and preferred bidders were eventually new Government, there was a public commitment to announced for the three separate Infracos: the deep tackle the ‘historic problem of under-investment in the Tube lines JNP and BCV and the Sub-surface lines (SSL). Underground.’ Looking back over that potted history of the PPP serves That statement was contained in the Labour Party’s only to increase my frustration at the blocks that have election manifesto, referring to plans for a new public been put in the way of putting real pounds in the private partnership to improve the Tube, safeguard its ground to rebuild the Underground. commitment to the public interest and guarantee value for money to taxpayers and passengers. In short, this process has been subjected to repeated Immediately after the General Election, the structure and stringent analysis from teams of professionals, of the PPP began to take shape and within 12 months, expert in many fields but with one sole aim: to create Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, then also the best Tube that money can buy - not to put profits Secretary of State for Transport, had outlined the PPP before passengers, or leave safety lagging behind Derek Smith Chairman plans in a Commons announcement. In effect, the PPP performance. London Underground would comprise two elements: Hopefully, this year we will finally be allowed to 55 Broadway q London SW1H 0BD Operations - a single, integrated entity, retained in achieve that goal. If so, all the hard work will have Tel: 020 7222 5600 the public sector and responsible for running the been worth it; if not, the Tube’s quickest line to Fax: 020 7918 3134 Underground services improvement will have been blocked yet again. www.thetube.com 101
"With the greatest respect to this influential"