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Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK


Engineering 'SAS' to save Dome tube

Jubilee extension will now be opened in three stages

London Transport have brought in a firm from the US to ensure that the UK's great project for the millennium will be accessible to underground passengers by January 2000.

One transport analyst has called Bechtel the "SAS of the engineering world".

Tom Simons: "Work is going on all day and all night"
About 30 of their staff will spearhead a "final push" on the much-delayed Jubilee Line Extension, which will open in Autumn 1999 - just weeks before the Millennium Dome at Greenwich celebrates the new era.

The 10-mile extension - the largest civil engineering project in Europe - had been due to open this year.

[ image: Prescott: Promise in June]
Prescott: Promise in June
Then, in June, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott promised it would be finished by Spring 1999.

This latest move is adding millions of pounds to the £2.7bn project, but clearly LT realises it will not get a second chance to get the project delivered on time.

LT Chief Executive Denis Tunnicliffe said the rate of work on the stations over the summer had been "disappointing".

Bechtel company official Clifford Mumm on Friday became chief executive of the Jubilee Line Extension Project, replacing the current project director Hugh Doherty.

[ image: LT admits progress has been
LT admits progress has been "disappointing"
He will oversee a phased opening rather than the previously-planned unveiling of the whole extension on one day.

Mr Mumm said the first phase would be from Stratford to North Greenwich in east London, to be opened by 30 April, 1999.

The experience gained from public interaction with this section of the line would be used to inform the rest of the project.

"Essentially Bechtel has come to us and said, 'The best way to guarantee this project is to throw the real public at it'," Mr Tunnicliffe said.

[ image: Dome may be finished on time but will people get there?]
Dome may be finished on time but will people get there?
But Mr Mumm was quick to deny that people using this section of the line would be "guinea pigs" for the rest of the project.

The second phase from north Greenwich to Waterloo is due to open in late summer 1999, with the final, vital link joining it all together scheduled for autumn 1999.

Only then will people be able to get to the Dome from central London.

There are fears that the Dome will either be a flop, or the centre of a massive traffic jam if the travel arrangements are not ready in time.

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