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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A tale of two holes – and a £39m price tag

In principle, I have no objection to people digging holes in the ground. Even very expensive holes. Potholes? Bad. But lift shafts, underground tunnels and other such excavations? Good. A big hole that loops back on itself and could* end the universe? That’ll do nicely. The combination of a hole, Bernard Cribbins and Lego? Excellent.

If I had to postulate a general theory of holes, I’d say that a hole that is not used is a bad hole. And two holes that are not used are doubly bad.

Which brings me to the question of the £39 million spent on building two holes in the ground at Shepherd’s Bush station. That the holes are called lift shafts might raise your hopes. But no, the project was cancelled £39 million in, so all we are left with is two holes in the ground, unused.

In 2009 further work on the project, i.e. putting the holes to use, was “deferred indefinitely” and it has stayed that way since. The reason is a half-decent one, namely that the costs of the rest of the work had spiralled up horribly so it was better to quit at that point. But of course the fact that the costs spiralled up so massively says something about the failure of planning and management up to that stage.

So thank you Mayors Livingstone and Johnson who between them have spent £39 million on giving us two holes in the ground, unused.

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