Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-437)



  420. Through any restructuring.
  (Mr Crow) There is conditions of service restructuring going on all the time. What we are talking about at the moment is protection of members' terms and conditions, which is what our job is about. Our concern is that yes, we have three sections. We have got TUPE which protects people's terms and conditions.

  Chairman: Mr Crow, I am going to stop you there. We do not have a lot of time. Did you wish to continue this line of questioning?

Miss McIntosh

  421. No, that is very helpful. I just want to ask one more question. Do any of the panel of witnesses think that there may be tensions in the delivery of the PPP between London Underground and Transport for London where clearly one is in favour of the PPP and the other is not?
  (Mr Rix) I think that would be quite obvious. The Mayor of London has made quite clear what he believes should be the direction of transport in London and London Underground as a whole, so I would imagine that TfL with their statements and the relationship between London Underground management and the Infracos will be quite desperate at times. In certain circumstances we have witnessed certain issues and indeed have seen certain conversations or tales that have been told to us about certain issues where perhaps relations are not as straightforward as they should be.

  Mr Donohoe: You have not given us an indication. Do you support the Transport for London alternative proposals?

  Miss McIntosh: Would it not be better to wait for the answer before we move on because that is a slightly different matter?

  Chairman: I am in charge of the Committee. If you will forgive me, I will take the Chair. If Mr Donohoe wishes to put his question he may do so.

Mr Donohoe

  422. If not, how do you propose to improve the maintenance of the performance of the network?
  (Mr Rix) There are many issues that we have analysed over the last couple of years and indeed we support many of TfL's recommendations. Perhaps TfL and the Mayor and other people that looked at the proposals have based some of their analyses on the independent report that we published as trade unions into the issue of funding for London Underground and how maintenance could be undertaken. We have never had a dogmatic opposition to the injection of private money into London Underground. What we believe from our experiences with mainline railways and other privately funded projects which have private control of these issues is that that private money, that private expertise, is welcome to come in. However, we are saying that it should be under public sector management control so that it is directed into the industry.


  423. Mr Rosser, I think you wanted to add something.
  (Mr Rosser) Yes. Going back to the comment about tensions between LUL and Transport for London, I make it clear that I have no specific evidence to back up what I am about to say, but I just suspect that we will find significant numbers of higher managers within London Underground will not be around for too long after Transport for London have taken over. Our concern on the Infraco companies, the ones that will go if the PPP comes in under new management, is that once again, after a relatively short period of time, we may find perhaps numbers of the senior managers being replaced by people from the new firms.

  424. Are you basing this on evidence of something that has happened before?
  (Mr Rosser) It is based on what happened in some instances, and I do stress the word "some", with railway privatisation.

  425. So it is not an opinion; it is something you have seen happen?
  (Mr Rosser) No. It is particularly based on the obvious friction that there is between the people at the top of Transport for London and London Underground.

Helen Jackson

  426. Why are you so sure that in terms of the terms and conditions which you started on these would be better protected under Transport for London?
  (Mr Crow) What we have got at the moment with these people is that if they transfer over into the PPP the main contract which London Underground or TfL or the Government will sign with the Infracos is written into the commercial contracts and is also written into their contracts of employment.

  427. Can I just interrupt you because I was not wanting a negative about PPP. You have covered that adequately. The question is why are you sure that your terms and conditions will be unchanged or better protected under Transport for London?
  (Mr Crow) At the moment we have pan-negotiations with the company. One maintenance worker doing the same job gets exactly the same conditions on one part of the combine as they do on the other.

  428. Are you sure it will continue?
  (Mr Crow) We are not sure it will continue because we are going to have three sets of negotiations, four with London Underground and five with TfL. What we are concerned about is that because of the shortage of skills due to the recession you could get people leaving the industry and as a result of that you could get people doing the same job getting different rates of pay and what you will see then is some people with skill shortages leaving and others paying less to attract people to come into the industry. That is what gives us grave concern.
  (Mr Rix) Just to supplement that, there has been recent evidence that while they are working in the shadow money they have tried to introduce differentials.


  429. Who is "they"?
  (Mr Rix) London Underground and the Infracos. I am sure you are all aware that a couple of months ago there was very nearly quite a serious dispute on London Underground between my members and the management. It was all to do with parity between drivers who work on London Underground in the PSD and drivers who work within the Infraco. We are witnessing a sea change in the management's attitude towards these differentials between different people that work for the Passenger Services Directorate and those that work in the Infraco. That nearly led to a serious dispute which was called off at the eleventh hour because some common sense was brought into the negotiations.

Chris Grayling

  430. This is directed to Mr Rix and the comments he was making about private funding coming in under public sector management. If we look back to the experience of the Jubilee Line, what confidence do we have that if your view is right it would be possible for a public sector London Underground to deliver the modernisation programme we are talking about?
  (Mr Rix) Let us be quite honest. The Jubilee Line extension was rushed at the end of the day. Yes, it was over budget in some respects, but that was due to—

  431. It was massively over budget.
  (Mr Rix) So is CTRL, so is the West Coast main line. These are all private sector operated and controlled.


  432. Your conclusion is that no-one in the rail industry seems capable of—
  (Mr Rix) Of budgeting correctly. I think that has been seen with what has happened with Railtrack.

Chris Grayling

  433. But in the case of the Jubilee Line it is not just about—
  (Mr Rix) No, but the fact of the matter was—

  Chris Grayling: No, but can I make the point—


  434. You have asked the question, Mr Grayling. Let us be original and let him answer it.
  (Mr Rix) The fact of the matter was that there was a Millennium celebration for the year 2000. There was incessant pressure at the end of the day on the management to have that extension brought into service. One of the issues was that there is now a vastly inferior signalling system on that route because it was to be brought in. I do not think many people have analysed that. Yes, it was budgeted correctly; yes, there was a massive overspend. The public sector management were pulling their hair out as much as anybody else at how they were having to deal with the contractors and things like that. I believe that lessons have been learned and there are some realities now to be placed into budgets and things like that. To be quite honest, at the end of the day would you trust £13 billion of taxpayers' money to be handled by the private sector after what we have seen on the West Coast main line and CTRL and all the other expansion projects in the private sector railway industry?

  435. Mr Rix, we try and ask the questions rather than let you ask them. I just want to ask you one thing before I allow you to escape. What particular proposals would you make to improve the performance of the network?
  (Mr Rix) There are many things we can look into. There is staff morale, there are issues about staff retention, there are issues about treatment. Obviously it is about looking at a public service. That is what London Underground is there for, to provide a service. Due to the political uncertainty about the ownership of London Underground, due to the constant changes in management, due to the constant changes in certain techniques and so on, there are so many projects taking place that I think people are losing the plot about providing a service. We need to get back to concentrating on some basics and then building on that once you have got those building blocks in place. That is one of the problems with performance and quite a number of other issues, that most people are trying to do so many things at once which they have to justify to Government or the PPP, they have to justify to TfL in certain respects, they have to justify the new training techniques and all the other things that I think everybody is losing sight of the issue.

  436. Does anyone want to add anything to that?
  (Mr Crow) I just agree with everything Mick said and, putting it in a nutshell, long term funding, CrossRail, the extension of the East London line and a new Hackney-Chelsea line. That would cause an improvement in performance.
  (Mr Rosser) I would say regular investment flows, not turning the tap on and off, which is a big headache for any management if they do not know how much money they are going to have, and consistency of policy towards London Underground.

Andrew Bennett

  437. Do you think the Health and Safety Executive is right to accept version 3.0 of the safety case? Are you satisfied now on health and safety?
  (Mr Crow) Our representatives are not satisfied. All three trades unions' representatives have written to the Health and Safety Executive and to us and have told us they have not been consulted.
  (Mr Rix) To put it in a nutshell, that is in London Underground's safety case. It is version 3.0. Version 3.1 is the one that has to be done shortly and that has to go through the Health and Safety Executive. Our safety reps have been in touch with me. They are going to be raising their concerns and obviously we will be presenting them to London Underground and the safety authorities to see if we can make some adaptations to them.

  Chairman: Gentlemen, you have been not only concise but tolerant. Thank you very much indeed.

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