Commons Gate

Going for Gold: Delivering Excellent Transport for London's 2012 Olympic Games (HC 588-i)

Transport Committee 19 October 2005

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Evidence given by Mr Owen Whalley, Service Head, Major Project Development, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Mr Neil Bullen, Manager, Transport Planning, London Borough of Waltham Forest, Ms Jane Mandlik, Highways Manager West, Mr John Herman, Head of Regeneration &; Infrastructure, London Borough of Newham, Mr Andrew Cunningham, Head of Streetscene, London Borough of Hackney, Mr Miles Butler, Director, Dorset County Council, and Mr Stephen Joseph, Deputy Chief Executive, Thames Gateway London Partnership. Mr Paul Plummer, Director of Planning and Regulation, and Ms Janet Goodland, Director of Network Development, Network Rail, Mr Rob Holden, Executive Chairman, London &; Continental Railways Ltd, and Mr Theo Steel, Project Director - one Railway, and Mr Paul Smith, Director, London Support, Association of Train Operating Companies. Mr William Bee, Director for Wales, Ms Natalie Salmon, Head of Access to Services and Transport, Disability Rights Commission; Mr Neil Betteridge, Chairman, Mr Graham Lawson, Chairman of the Personal Mobility and Local Authority Working Group, Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee; Mr Brian Cook, Chairman, Mr Tony Shields, Member, London Transport Users Committee.

Chairman: Do any Members of Parliament have a declaration of interests to make?

Mr. Eric Martlew: I have a property in Greenwich.

Chairman: Are you a member of a trade union related to transport?

Mr. Eric Martlew: The Transport and General Workers Union and the General Municipal Workers Union.

Q12 Mr. Eric Martlew: Following on from that, I remember when we had the Dome at Greenwich there was great concern that the Jubilee line would not be finished on time. I remember there were quite a few electricians who made a lot of money out of it. What you are talking about is much bigger than the Jubilee line and you are also talking about Crossrail at the same time. Do you think there are enough professionals to be able to carry out all that work and do you think there will be too much disruption or do you think that you are going to have problems without Crossrail?

Ms Mandlik: Commenting on the professionals as opposed to the contracting staff, we have been aware for some time that there is a shortage of transport professionals but this is being addressed in various ways. Transport for London have been offering training to the borough. Starting salaries for transport graduates have increased over the years, so people have been encouraged in time to come into the profession, but we also have moved into a different era in terms of the fact that most consulting engineers and consulting planners are now part of international groups. The resources are there world-wide and they can be brought in, so we feel fairly confident about addressing the planning design elements. Construction contracts are a different situation but those two are now international.

Q13 Mr. Eric Martlew: I am not quite sure the question has been answered. Are you happy that Crossrail and the transport infrastructure for the Olympics bid should go ahead at the same time or do you think there could be a problem?

Mr Whalley: Perhaps I could assist with that, Chair. Clearly, there will be an interface between Crossrail and the Olympic bid in a physical sense and the eastern portal of Pudding Mill Lane between the media centre and the training warm-up tracks. Our view is that the relationship between the London Development Agency and the Crossrail project team will ensure that that interface can be managed and that the two projects should indeed proceed. Crossrail, in addition to the benefits that have already been described arising from the Olympics, will bring major regenerative benefits to East London and Thames Gateway. Our view is that those two projects should proceed together.

Q14 Mr. Eric Martlew: It is not the question of the benefit to London. It is the question of the capacity to do them both. Do you think there are the capacity and the skills to do both those projects at the same time?

Mr Joseph: As Jane mentioned, the contracts are now all European-wide or international and there is certainly the capacity out there to do them at the same time if one can overcome the technical difficulties of doing them at the same time, and we are told that the technical difficulties can be overcome, so the answer is yes.


Q82 Mr. Eric Martlew: My head is spinning a bit about the various projects that not only yourselves but the other witnesses talk about. There was a problem just getting the Jubilee Line there on time for the Dome. We are talking about a number of projects all probably running into hundreds of billions of pounds. Firstly, do you believe that there are the skills there to carry out those projects? What effect do you think it will have with regard to wages? Do you not think there is a grave possibility you could well go over budget on these projects because there is a skill shortage and supply and demand will mean that you will have to pay extra?

Mr Plummer: In terms of the skill shortage, we have done a lot already in the last few years since the creation of Network Rail to bring in the skills in terms of the detailed design work and to take that forward. The engineering capability of the company is greatly enhanced as well as using consultancy resources. In terms of delivery as well, our capability is much stronger than it has been at stages in the past. This will only work if it is planned very carefully, in a very integrated way, not just in terms of the individual projects but with all of the other things that go on in the railway, the renewals that happen every day and the day to day operation of the railway, the access that is needed to do the work, to ensure that that is not too disruptive to the normal passenger services. We need to plan that very carefully and work with all the other parties. There is a lot more work to be done there and that is what we have to focus on in the next few years.

Q83 Mr. Eric Martlew: Is that a yes, you have the skills and no, it will not have a part in the price inflation?

Mr Plummer: We have an issue with price inflation already in the sense that there is a huge amount of investment going on in the railway. The major challenge is to deliver very substantial efficiency improvements on the back of that. The additional works in terms of the Olympics and other issues can place additional pressure on that. We have to try to manage that through the supply chain and do it effectively. If we can do it well through good planning, the risk will be minimised but certainly it is going to be a major challenge.


Q152 Mr. Eric Martlew: This is not the first Olympic Games ever to be held. Are you going to reinvent the wheel? Are you going to cities which have had the Olympic Games in the past to find out what they did and whether it worked?

Mr Smith: We have not yet but no doubt we will draw on experience from those places.

Mr Steel: In the company I worked for we had an Australian experience which included running buses in the Sydney Olympics and we can certainly draw on that experience.


Q156 Mr. Eric Martlew: I travel regularly on the Docklands Light Railway and they do not have gates but they do take Oyster cards.

Mr Steel: Their average fare is rather lower than ours and the Docklands Light Railway system is the Docklands Light Railway system. I know it connects in and out at various locations but once you are at Stratford you can get to Norwich.

Q157 Mr. Eric Martlew: Are you saying that the DLR is not interested in collecting fares?

Mr Steel: No. I am saying that we are looking at that very carefully in terms of gathering evidence and trying to see a way forward.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB