Mayor of London Boris Johnson has defended Transport for London's £25 million plan to centralise its London Underground control rooms at Palestra in Blackfriars Road.
This autumn Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy approved a project to merge seven separate control rooms in a new command and control centre in the Palestra building opposite Southwark Underground Station.
According to a paper prepared for TfL's finance and policy committee, "the network operations centre, power, track access and policing control centres will all be linked to enhance communications between functions and improve London Underground’s response to incidents".
Earlier this month Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly member and chair of City Hall's transport committee, tabled a question to the Mayor asking whether he had considered any lower-cost office space than the Will Alsop-designed Palestra building.
In a written response published just before Christmas, Boris Johnson said: "Given all the factors that need to be taken into consideration for this co-location – including adaptability and suitability of the building to accommodate the control room infrastructure, ease of connection to key railway systems, location in zone 1, proximity to incident response staff, the availability of a vacant floor, the Surface Transport and Traffic Operations Centre already being located there – I am comfortable that Palestra represents excellent value for money and is the lowest-cost option that meets all the relevant criteria."
The surface transport operations centre was opened by the Duke of York in 2009 and will play an important part in keeping London moving during the Olympics and Paralympics in Summer 2012.