As the Tube Lines consortium embarks on its mission to modernise the
capital’s crumbling Underground system, Ben Willmott looks at the cultural
changes that will be critical to achieving its high targets
The success or failure of one of the biggest ever public private
partnerships (PPP), to upgrade part of the London Underground, will hinge on
how well former public sector staff adapt to a new performance-based work
The £16bn agreement between the Tube Lines consortium and London Underground
is designed to provide an injection of private sector cash to modernise the
Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. The company is contracted to triple
investment in the system during the first seven-and-a-half years of the 30-year
The agreement was finally signed on New Years Day. It had been due for
completion in November, but was delayed due to financial concerns over
contractor Amey – one of the three-strong consortium, along with Jarvis and
Andy Good, Tube Lines’ HR director, said one of the biggest challenges will
be introducing a new work culture that is focused on meeting the company’s
demanding performance targets throughout the life of the contract. For example,
there are targets on station cleanliness, train punctuality and levels of
accuracy achieved by track gangs, and fines can be imposed if these goals are
not actually achieved.
Tube Lines initially aims to cut delays by 10 per cent within 12 months and
the company is also planning to install new signalling systems on the Jubilee
and Northern lines by 2011.
"Every aspect of service will have a contract manager," he said.
"We know the level we must perform to because it is laid out in the
To ensure Tube Lines meets its targets, Good will attempt to create a single
organisational culture based on the three core elements of competence,
motivation and leadership.
This new work culture is essential if the former employees of London
Underground and personnel from Jarvis, Bechtel and Amey, are all to pull in the
"Giving people the skills they need to do the job to the best of their
ability is vital," said Good.
"Developing management competencies and core work competencies are
extremely high priorities."
Motivation is also a key factor. He sums this up as: "Knowing the goals
you need to achieve, being given the freedom to do your job and being rewarded
for doing it well."
He believes effective leadership that gives people the focus to concentrate
on elements of their jobs that will help them achieve their targets is also
The part-privatisation of the London Underground had been significantly
delayed due to a legal challenge by London Mayor Ken Livingstone last year.
Under the agreement, 2,500 London Underground staff were transferred to Tube
Lines, with their terms and conditions protected under TUPE guidelines. Their
final salary pensions rights were secured by statute through the Greater London
Act three years ago, when the agreement was still being finalised.
Tube Lines will be responsible for upgrading and maintaining all track and
tunnel services, but station and train services will remain in the public
sector, run by the newly-formed Transport for London body.
To help achieve the organisational change needed, Good will transform the
role of the 30-strong HR department.
He said that the structure of his HR team will be changed from a traditional
centralised command and control approach, to one where HR is much more business
focused, providing more support for line managers.
"What I want is HR people out in the project management arena sharing
the improvement targets with the managers they are working with," he
Good said it is important that any changes to working practices are made
"The one thing we will not do is go in with a sense of arrogance and
say we know best and change everything," he said.
"We will maintain existing policies and systems and review them to see
if there is a better way of doing things.
"We must keep the business running as normal following the transfer. We
cannot see a dip in performance."
One main objection to part-privatisation of the Underground, highlighted by
Livingstone, was that safety would inevitably be sacrificed for profit.
The unions are not happy, and they believe that safety will never be
paramount under the new company regime.
A spokesman from the RMT said: "By the very nature of the agreement,
corners are going to be cut.
"The Tube Lines consortium has an obligation to make money for its
To ensure this does not happen, London Underground has retained overall
responsibility for safety, and Tube Lines has appointed a board level safety
director to make sure the issue remains a priority at all times.
Andy good’s cv
He has 11 years’ diverse HR experience across GEC/Alsthom businesses,
operating in various locations in the UK and overseas
– On graduation he
joined GEC Alsthom Turbine Generators (later, GEC Alsthom Power Plants) and
progressed steadily through the HR function
– From 1998 until
joining Tube Lines in March 2002, he was HR director for Alsthom Transport in
Birmingham – a business with 1,450 people – designing, developing, project
managing and assembling passenger rail vehicles for the UK market
PPP and the London underground
– The Tube Lines and Metronet consortiums have won contracts to
maintain and modernise the tunnels and tracks of London’s ageing underground
– Station and train
services will continue to be run by the public sector through the Transport for
– Tube Lines is made up
of Amey, Bechtel and Jarvis and will be responsible for modernising the
Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines
– Metronet consists of
Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Seeboard, Thames Water and Bombardier Transportation
– Metronet is expected
to take over responsibility for the infrastructure of the Bakerloo, Central,
Victoria, Waterloo & City, Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith
& City and East London lines in March this year