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19 October 2003

Private Profit at the Expense of Public Service

Not one, but two tube train derailments in as many days this weekend. The derailments occurred on the Piccadilly Line and the Northern Line, both of which have just been handed over to Tubelines under a 30-year Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal.

Tubelines is a consortium of three firms, including none other than Jarvis PLC and Bechtel, both of whom were involved in maintenance on the West Coast Main Line. The third party in the consortium is cash-strapped Amey. All three firms are united by powerful political contacts and a poor safety record which they appear to be replicating on the London Underground.

Both Jarvis and Amey have recently pulled out of their day-to-day rail maintenance contracts to avoid the costs and negative publicity of high-profile accidents on track they maintained. Of course, we all know about Bechtel now, don't we?

What's especially concerning about these underground train derailments is the fact that, with the notable exception of Radio 4's Today programme on Monday morning, none of the media seems to be catching on to the fact that it's the same organisations that were behind failing to adequately maintain overground track that are also responsible for not adequately maintaining underground track either! The Today report is here, however, the archived version contains no mention of Jarvis' role in the Tubelines consortium.

Update: London Mayor Ken Livingstone, as quoted in a Guardian article, "You could call them the usual suspects. This is not out of step with their record elsewhere." Well said that man!

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