Friday, 17 August 2012

Power from the people

London Underground has decided to cancel a 30-year contract with a Powerlink consortium for the operation and maintenance of its high-voltage electrical power network 15 years into the deal.  This takes effect from next August.

The original contract had a 15-year break clause, so LU will only pay around £160 million in termination payments, poor dears.  Meanwhile, LU has claimed the "“increased operational flexibility" means "we can invest the savings made in further transport improvements for our customers."  These savings should amount to around £220 million over the lifetime of the contract.  Sounds like a good deal for the weary customer, right?

Well, let's all look out for those improvements, shall we?  And while we're at it, let's all be sure to check carefully every announced ticket price rise for the next 15 years and be ready to call foul if LU in any way suggests that said rises are even in part caused by this contract break.

You know, what really troubles me is that there's no mention of who's going to take over the operation and maintenance of the electrical power network.  Are we to assume LU will take it in-house with its trademark efficiency and attention to detail?  Or will it be left to slowly degrade into rack and ruin, with rolling blackouts, trains stranded in tunnels, entire stations left in darkness or to the mercy of flickering back-up generators like something out of a low-budget Resident Evil movie spin-off (probably the lesser of two evil?

Image credit: (not sure if original)

I don't know about you, but I'm a little excited to find out!

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