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Transport for London's Signal Failure

Date published: 
14 March 2016

In 2011 Transport For London (TfL) appointed Bombardier Transport to upgrade its signalling on the District, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City underground lines.  In December 2013 TfL took the decision to end the contract early, and paid Bombardier a final settlement of £85 million to do so.

This report by the London Assembly Budget & Performance Committee – “Transport for London’s Signal Failure” – is a culmination of nearly three years scrutinising the circumstances of the Bombardier appointment and the subsequent failure to deliver the required signalling upgrade.

It highlights a culture at TfL which meant that management was only interested in presenting good news about the project, and determines that poor commercial expertise – combined with a lack of IT procurement skills – left TfL ill-prepared to appoint a suitable contractor for the Sub-Surface Upgrade Programme (SSUP).

Most significantly, the report draws attention to what this failed project means for underground travel in London in the near future.  The delays brought about by Bombardier’s appointment have resulted in the SSUP being five years behind schedule and forecast to cost nearly £900 million more than originally expected.  The most recent TfL projection is that 11 million fewer journeys than expected will now take place on the underground per year between 2017 and 2023: estimated to cost them £271 million in lost fares.