Monday 20th November

Plenary on 2006-12-06
Session date: 
December 6, 2006
Question By: 
Roger Evans
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Peter Hendy (Commissioner, Transport for London)


Can you provide the Assembly with a full briefing on the events of Monday 20th November on the Central, District and Circle lines, when the service was either partly or fully suspended for a long duration? What action has been taken by London Underground to rectify the situation?


Answer for Monday 20th November

Answer for Monday 20th November

Answered By: 
Peter Hendy (Commissioner, Transport for London)

1. District lineBackgroundDuring the weekend of 18 & 19 November Metronet had planned to replace 325 metres of rail, sleeper and ballast between Tower Hill and Cannon Street on the track serving both eastbound Circle and District lines. The full track work area ran from Whitechapel to Earl's Court in both directions and was due to take from the end of traffic on Friday 17 November until 04:00hrs on Monday 20 November. This meant that throughout the weekend there was no Circle line service, and the District line was suspended from Earl's Court to Whitechapel.As part of the planning process London Underground received documents describing the programme and method of work, including a timeline and a list of key project staff. Conference calls were held at regular intervals during the weekend to monitor progress against the programme. Saturday/SundayIt was identified on the Saturday morning at about 10.00 that there was a risk of an overrun of more than one hour. As a result of the slippage the scope of work was reduced on Saturday night and the whole programme reduced, which should have enabled handback on time for Monday morning. Measures were also put in place to mitigate the impact of the possible overrun on customer services including the provision of additional buses and adequate customer information. The size of the work area was reduced to that between Mansion House and Whitechapel only. A plan was put in place for working trains around the suspension to enable the introduction of a service when the possession was lifted.MondayFrom the start of traffic the District Line remained suspended between Mansion House and Whitechapel in both directions, as the engineering work had not been completed. The rest of the line operated with severe delays. The District Line operated a reduced service until 07:37. The normal Hammersmith & City service between Barking and Hammersmith operated. There was no Circle Line service in either direction.At 07.37 the service on the District line resumed on the whole line but with severe delays. The Circle line remained suspended until the first District line trains had traversed the new track but was restored, with severe delays, at 07:50.Minor delays continued on both lines into the afternoon, with a good service on the District line from 15.30.Reasons for overrunThe overrun was due to poor planning and execution of work by Metronet. In particular the causes were:· Poor pre-works preparation and absence of logistics checks· The plan for tracking rail plant was not followed· Certification for lifting machines and operatives was found to be incomplete· A vital link cable to enable key excavator laser levelling system was left in depot· Re-planning activity at the site to mitigate schedule erosion `missed' core engineers train and rail plant logistics ' meaning that stored new running rails could not be accessed for installation as they were trapped under a working engineers train· Each re-programme exercise (three in total) failed to maintain and deliver the recovery schedule ' each time diverting senior site management attention.What action LU is taking to rectify the situationLU has made it very clear to Metronet that in its view all the factors that led to the over-run were preventable, by simple pre-event checking and verification.A full aftermath review has been conducted with Metronet in the presence of cross-directorate LU representation. LU has asked Metronet to hold a formal enquiry with senior LU manager involvement, and is awaiting confirmation that this will take place.2. Central lineBackgroundThe Central line signalling control system has been reliable since it was introduced in the 1990's, and has supported a significant growth in Central line train services as passenger numbers have increased. A new timetable was due to be implemented from 19 November 2006 to enhance Monday to Friday inter peak train frequencies, increase the number of trains running at weekends, and increase services around the Hainault loop. Operational changes associated with the new sidings at White City were also incorporated. During the testing period, over the previous 4 weeks, LU signal operators at the line's Wood Lane control centre checked that the timetable worked, by loading the timetable data into a signalling simulator. On Saturday night the new Sunday timetable was uploaded and ran without problem. Monday 20 NovemberOn Sunday night/Monday morning while the new timetable was being loaded, the signalling control computer failed. This became apparent at 03:30 hours and was confirmed at 04:30 when signalling on the whole line failed to operate. LU were able to run a limited service by manual operation of Emergency Local Control Panels (ELCP) based at key locations. However it was not possible to operate the ELCP at Woodford so no service could be run through that area. There was also a technical problem with the ELCP at Queensway so no service could be run through the central area. A total of 44 rail replacement buses were ordered to operate in the Woodford area and between Loughton and Stratford. At 07:15 the old timetable was successfully re-loaded into the signalling control computer. After running a series of test trains the ELCPs were closed down and control handed back to the main Wood Lane control centre. At 08:15 a special service was advertised but still suspended between Leytonstone and White City. At around 08:50 the service between White City and Leytonstone was restored. The special service using the old timetable remained in place for the remainder of the day. LU worked closely with Metronet and its sub-contractor Westinghouse Signals to understand what caused the failure. To establish a cause they needed to download data from the system, which could only be done during engineering hours. The work to find a fix continued until Thursday during which time the special service was kept in place. The new timetable was loaded successfully and commenced operation on Friday morning. What action LU is taking to rectify the situation Since the problems first emerged, meetings have been held between LU, Metronet and Westinghouse to ensure that all issues are fully understood, a repair is found, and to ensure that a similar event does not occur in future. LU's Engineering Director is also leading a review of the controls in place to ensure that Metronet follow industry-based software control best practice.