When a Kings Cross train derailed on its way out of the station, Jarvis were initially adamant that their maintenance regime was not to blame. A short investigation by Network Rail later however, together with the peace of mind that comes from knowing no lives were lost this time, allowed them to admit that, umm OK, it was squarely their fault the points hadn’t been properly restored to operational order.
But at Potters Bar, in which people lost their lives when a carriage derailed and slid across the platform, Jarvis insisted that it was not their fault the bolts were missing from the point blades. No, that was “sabotage” (after all, saboteurs could theoretically strike at Potters Bar and not be witnessed, which is not the case at the busy throat of a major terminal). And I think we can now see just how likely that explanation is.
And in a sense, they’re right. The rail network is suffering from gross acts of sabotage - committed by useless maintenance contractors.
Others point out that NR would have awarded the job to the lowest bidder, thus compromising safety to lower costs. However: 1. While the Jarvis subcontractors no doubt shaved costs to the bone and did the job dirt-cheap, you can bet that the cost to NR was substantial for a little bit of track renewal. (Recent cost estimate of inserting a measly level crossing: four million pounds.) 2. Even the cheapest subcontractor ought to possess a basic safety awareness so that (e.g.) a final check for missing sections of rail takes place, on moral grounds if no other. Is it ethical to cause accidents just because “no one paid us enough to be careful”? In the modern PFI world, truth is clearly whatever you can plausibly get away with.