Tube upgrade completed

But signal failures mean commuters swelter underground

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Tube commuters struggling in the heat would have taken scant comfort from the news that the upgrade of tracks on the District line was completed at the weekend.

The work had been necessary for the removal of speed restrictions on the District and Piccadilly lines between Earls Court and Acton town but in the event signal failures on both lines meant that the service was even worse than it had been in previous weeks and the delays have coincided with one of the hottest days of the year.

Metronet Rail this weekend completed a programme of almost 4km of track renewal works on the District and Piccadilly lines.

The package of track work has been spread over 10 weekends and began in August last year. The final 550m replaced this last Saturday and Sunday was between Baron's Court and Hammersmith on the District line.

A total of 3,771m has been renewed between West Kensington and Ravenscourt Park stations – 2,033m on the Piccadilly line and 1,738m on the District line. Life-expired jointed rail on wooden sleepers has been replaced with quieter continuously-welded rail on concrete sleepers.

Metronet Chief Executive Andrew Lezala said: “This work will deliver a smoother, more reliable ride for passengers and reduce the track noise for nearby residents.”

Last weekend's work necessitated closures between Acton Town and West Kensington on the District line and Acton Town and Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly line. To make the most of the closure, separate Metronet project teams also carried out heavy maintenance in the area. Fifty separate track faults were cleared, 180 metres of rail replaced and a new crossing installed. In addition they part-replaced a bridge which helps prepare the way for the arrival of the new mainline engineering railway fleet. This fleet of heavy duty diesel locomotives pulling trains almost half a kilometre long will triple the number of track renewals across half the Metronet network, further improving track. Metronet also used the closure to install new drains at Turnham Green.

Work also continued last week clearing sections of rail prone to hot weather speed restrictions. Metronet is now more than halfway through its programme and is looking to further accelerate it to finish ahead of the end-of-July deadline.

Speed restrictions were imposed across the Tube network after a failure by Metronet to carry out routine track work to cope with summer temperatures. The lines were closed but Metronet did not complete the work because they did not have the correct equipment or man-power. Peter Hendy, Commissioner of Transport for London had accused Metronet of poor planning and management.

20 mph speed restrictions, to ensure safe running of trains, were put in place on sections of the District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines.

Metronet Rail SSL is responsible for the renewal and maintenance of the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and East London lines. They are also responsible for the maintenance of the Piccadilly line between Hammersmith and Acton Town.

June 12, 2006