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Weekend closures to speed up Tube station upgrades

Tube maintenance firm Tube Lines wants more weekend closures to carry out its £600 million station upgrade work under the PPP.

The firm has begun weekend-only working at Queensbury stat-ion on the Jubilee line in north-west London and is set to do the same at Edgware, also in north London, on the Northern line.

It has been carrying out some weekend work - where a station is shut down from Friday night through to Monday morning - at Highgate station on the Northern line but it is now hoping to expand this to a further nine stations. It is looking for 30 weekend closures between the end of this year and late 2009.
Tube Lines is responsible for looking after 97 stations on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines and has finished work on more than half of them.

It takes 222 days for London Underground to sort out alternative travel plans for passengers due to closures - even though an application for the work can be granted within days of it being made.

Tube Lines’ senior project manager for its station upgrade team Tooraj Shadnia said: “It is better value for money doing it this way and it can be done quicker. London Underground is very supportive.”

He added that one weekend of working - which is usually divided into four shifts of 10 hours - can achieve what it would take 20 weekday nights.

He said: “With weekday nights, it usually takes 45 minutes to set up and another 45 minutes to get everything back out. By that time, we’ve only got around two hours and 15 minutes and we’re very limited in what we can do.”

Stations in residential areas are those most likely to be worked on at weekends in order to minimise noise disruption during the week. Key stations like Camden Town and Euston, which can’t be shut down without causing severe travel disruption, will continue to be worked on at nights.

Tube Lines is set to complete revamping a further 14 stations by this May with a further dozen due to be handed over in May 2009. The remainder will be completed by June 2010.

At the end of the first quarter of the 30-year PPP contract, Tube Lines and LU share any savings made during that period.