Replacing London’s Victorian Water Pipes…?

Badger asks:

Are you aware of the ongoing saga of the replacement pipe operation in Annandale Road.

We were informed that the Victorian water pipes were to be replaced and the operation would take 6 weeks starting Jan 2007 (Nearly a year and a quarter ago).

Well the original works did start then and actually continued for around SEVEN months. Once the workmen cleared off in July all was good until around September when a sewer pumping wagon started appearing at Midnight and sluishing out the drains (causing a little disruption with it’s attendant noise, smell and flashing lights). Apparently the sewers were backing up into the houses on the odd numbered side of the street.

This continued until a work crew set up camp in November for a repair job on the main sewer which had somehow got concrete poured down it by the water pipe replacement operation (this is what I was told from the workmen). This was due to take around a week but actually took us into January and this time the road actually had to be closed as they dug a huge pit in the middle of the road.

Now they’ve appeared again early this month and are digging trenches down the sides of the road replicating the original operation over a year ago. Rumour has it that the pipes were not dug in at the specified depth and this therefore has to be corrected.

Six week operation still not completed inside 60 weeks !! Do any other corrsepondents know what is going on ?? Can the authorities enlighten us and if it takes this long for one street what chance for the rest of London which I believe is the extent of the whole operation ??

The Phantom wearily replies:

Sadly I don’t think you’re alone here, Badger. It seems that all over Greenwich (and, indeed, London) roads are dug up, filled in, re-dug, re-filled. Take Woolwich Road. I wonder which bright spark thought it was a good idea to excavate in late March 2007, only to have to fill it in again, having done bugger-all, for the Marathon in April. By the time they got round to digging it up again it was time for the Tour de France and the whole lot got filled in again. I thought they actually had it nailed when they did it again in about September – but a couple of weeks ago it was all fenced off and dug up around the corner – where Combedale and Kemsing roads are – and where all the traffic comes round the corner. And yes. Poor old Annandale Road has copped it yet again too. I’m so used to seeing those wire mesh panels somewhere (before the roads it was the SElectIOn (a name devised by a very weary PR person…) being built) that it will seem quite bare when the road’s actually clear again.

Maybe the job is so big that they’re just not training people properly to do it right the first time. I went to a lecture at the Barrier last year where Thames Water were boasting that they were ahead of schedule – thye’d counted on finishing all of London by 2010. Maybe they had actually factored-in the number of times they’d have to return to ‘finished’ projects so they could look good last year when they were getting all that bad press…

I know it’s a big job and it has to be done (though I did notice that they’re using the ‘old Victorian waterpipes’ excuse for every patch-job they’re doing – in places that are clearly no older than mid 20th Century – some work in Charlton for example where the pipes cannot possibly be 19th Century is proudly annoucing that the ‘Victorian’ pipes are being replaced…) but if they’d just get it right the first time, it would be better for everyone.

Ooh. I do like coming back and having a good moan.

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