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TFL still wasting millions on telecoms despite IIPAG criticism

One year on and Transport for London is still pouring millions into dispersed telecoms systems, according to the Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group

Transport for London (TfL) is wasting more than £300m a year on telecoms systems that are not fit for purpose, according to an independent advisory body.

The Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group (IIPAG) provides advice to the Mayor of London’s office about TfL’s projects and investments.

In its 2015 review of TfL, the IIPAG found the organisation is spending millions every year on telecoms for its control centres, railway, buses, offices, “capital schemes” and other areas.

But in July 2014, the IIPAG warned TfL it could be saving millions by restructuring its fragmented telecoms model.

“Over the past four years IIPAG has expressed its concern regarding delivery of the commercial aspects of TfL’s investment programme and the delivery of telecommunications services in TfL,” said the IIPAG’s 2015 report.

“In the past year, there has not been the improvement in performance that could have been expected,” it said. 

In 2014, the IIPAG pointed the finger at TfL’s legacy management infrastructure causing the management of its telecoms to become fragmented. TfL has several methods of delivery for telecoms, including its own infrastructure and buying services from third parties.

The IIPAG suggested it would work with TfL to begin addressing the problem in stages, starting with London Underground where cost and scale would be highest.

A statement from TfL chair and London mayor Boris Johnson and TfL commissioner Peter Hendy claimed the organisation had undergone a “review” of its telecommunications and was looking into transitioning to something new in the future, beginning with mission-critical processes and following with the rest.

However, a year later and the IIPAG claims there has been little to no improvement and TfL has made “little progress” on recommended changes. 

“IIPAG is frustrated over the lack of progress in improving TfL’s telecoms organisation and arrangements,” said the report.

“IIPAG believes TfL is delivering poor value and – with better organisation and leadership – could save many millions of pounds every year and deliver the necessary benefits of new digital technology to the organisation and to the travelling public,” it said.

TfL began a £400m network tower project in June 2015 to procure a wide area network (WAN) covering networks tower ecosystem collaboration, service management, project delivery, design and technical assurance, network transformation, WAN provision, access network provision and support services.

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The waste is even bigger that this. The TfL infrastructure could be used to help lever a wholesale upgrade to the fixed and mobile communications infrastructure of London to serve the many business not spots left by BT's policy of protecting its legacy leased line business. I look forward to seeing this feature in the London mayoral election campaigns.
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