09 August 2001 | Liam O'Brien
London Underground's (LU) 100-strong procurement department could be expanded as a result of the public private partnership (PPP) that is set to reshape the capital's creaking Tube system.
Three services will take over purchasing for the network's infrastructure after the failure of Ken Livingstone, London's mayor, to stop PPP.
Two hundred purchasing staff in the three services have been shadowing LU's infrastructure buying in the run-up to PPP.
Once PPP goes ahead - expected to be early next year - LU's purchasing department will only be responsible for the £130 million budget for the operating side of the business, such as buying uniforms, energy, consultancy services such as IT, and security.
Despite this loss of responsibility, expected expansion of the underground system means the department will stay at its present size and may even grow, according to LU.
"The number of procurement staff - working for the underground as well as the infrastructure companies - might actually need to increase after PPP because budgets will increase substantially as money comes on stream to carry out the extensive works in the PPP contracts," said a spokesperson.
Plans include an extension to the East London Line and a new link between Hackney and Chelsea. As Livingstone's bid to derail PPP for the Tube is thought to be over, it is expected that PPP bidders could start work by early 2002.
Tube Lines, the consortium expected to take control of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, plans to sign its PPP contract by the end of this year.
Metronet, the group preferred for the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines, is eager for an early exchange of contracts given that it predicts it will be 15 years before London has a "world-class" underground.