London's Tube Signalling Upgrade Will Happen -- But Four Years Late and for Twice the Price

By Gary Cutlack on at

London's Circle, District, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines are getting the signalling upgrade they need to boost their capacities to 21st century levels, although the cost is coming in at twice the level that was anticipated when a deal to do the work was first struck in 2011.

Back then, Transport for London issued a contract to Bombardier for £354m to have the signalling on the lines upgraded to increase maximum train speed and frequency past the level the Victorians originally allowed for, work that was to have been completed by 2018. That deal fell through in 2013 when the complex work was judged to be too complicated for Bombardier to complete.

More money went into an unmarked pit too, with TfL forced to write off £85m it had already paid to Bombardier for preliminary works. So now there's a new deal in place, with Thales winning a £760m contract to do the work, with a deadline date of 2022. That's well over twice the price originally agreed and comes with a deadline of four years later, which is a bit of a big miss even for deadline-shy UK industry.

The work to rewire the Tube's ancient signalling connections is deemed massively important. The planned updates will increase the capacity of the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines by a staggering 65 per cent, also boosting the capacity of the District and Met Lines by around a quarter. [FT]