A £354 million re-signalling contract on London Underground subsurface lines – said to be the biggest ever of its type in the world - will be retendered two and a half years after it was awarded to Bombardier.
London Underground and Bombardier are in talks with around 100 engineers affected and are trying to help them find new jobs.
The Canadian company has pulled out of the contract to overhaul the signalling on some of the oldest parts of the underground claiming that its signalling system would be incompatible with the Underground’s. London Underground has said that it needed to change contractors in order to deliver the project on or close to the original completion date.
Bombardier won the contract after an 18-month tendering process but London Underground says that despite having to select a new supplier the original project completion date of 2018 will still be achieved. Siemens is said to be front runner to take on the contract, but the procurement process could take until summer with LU this week seeking expressions of interest in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJUE).
Bombardier has already spent up to £85 million on a new unified control centre for the upgraded underground lines involved which is expected to be paid by LU. Other enabling works are also understood to have been carried out to an advanced stage.
The upgrade affects a number of underground lines, a total of some 40% of the system’s route miles and is to be carried out first on the Metropolitan and then the Circle Lines, followed by the Hammersmith & City and finally the District Line. The Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will see their capacity increase by 65%, the Metropolitan Line by 27% and the District Line by 24%.
Bombardier retains its contract to supply 191 trains for the upgraded lines, the S-Stock Fleet which are air conditioned and walk-through. Some of these trains are already in operation on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines.
Part of the complexity of the project arises from the number of busy junctions where trains from different lines cross paths. Re-signalling these areas will shorten delays experienced while trains wait until it is safe to proceed.
London Underground Managing Director Mike Brown said: “We have been working closely with Bombardier to find a way forward on what is one of the most challenging and complex pieces of work on the Tube. However it has become apparent to both parties that for the work to be completed within or close to the planned deadline we need to push on with works with another contractor.”