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Northern Line Extension ‘remains a high concern’

The Northern Line Extension (NLE) on the London Underground remains at high risk of delay despite improvements, an independent report on Transport for London (TfL) has found.

The £500m contract to design and build the extension was awarded to Ferrovial Agroman Laing O’Rourke (FLO) in 2014, but in the first half of 2015, it became apparent that the NLE was likely to suffer severe delays and go over budget.

These could include building a new ‘station box’ at Battersea Power Station at an additional cost of £240m.

The Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group (IIPAG) carried out an interim review in April 2015 and recommended establishing a project management team with appropriate resources and carrying out a review of what lessons could be learned from the problems with the project.

In its annual report, published ahead of a meeting of the TfL finance and policy committee, IIPAG noted that the project has now reached “a more stable state”.

Site works at Battersea Power Station have commenced and TfL has successfully rescheduled and reconfigured them to minimise their impact on the overall programme.

However, TfL has not yet given IIPAG a copy of a documented plan for the management of its relationship with the station developer, as requested.

It has also carried out a review exercise to establish the cause of the problems, but not the independent review recommended, although IIPAG said there is scope for an independent review in the future.

It says that the review is “essential” for all other TfL projects designed to simulate development as part of the Mayoral Transport Strategy.

The report notes: “The NLE project remains of high concern to IIPAG and IIPAG will continue to seek regular briefings from the sponsor, project director and the project delivery team.”

In response, TfL said its team has regularly briefed IIPAG on the recent developments and “notes that the project remains of high concern to the group. Further briefings will be provided as appropriate”.

More generally, IIPAG said that TfL’s project and programme boards have sometimes failed to establish a sufficiently clear direction for projects and allowed changes in scope without funding them.

It noted that TfL has improved its performance at keeping projects within budget instead of seeking extra funding, but that more progress could be made in this area.

It also found that TfL lacks an overall strategy for the best deployment of non-permanent labour and a good understanding of the total costs of its workforce.

TfL replied that it has been developing a strategic workforce planning capability for the last 18 months, as well as a multi-vendor Engineering Recruitment Framework for the most cost-effective management of skilled non-permanent labour.

The latest edition of RTM features an article on the latest developments with the NEL programme, which includes fitting out two stations and 3km of twin tunnel and their shafts and junctions.

(Image c. Steve from Flickr)

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Gabriel Oaks   26/07/2016 at 12:27

Surely this isn't the same TfL that wants to take-over Southern based on claims of TOC incapability.......

James Palma   26/07/2016 at 20:05

This is typical TFL. I know i deal with projects there all the time. They are arrogant, dont listen and do what they want, regardless of consequences.

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