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Union warns that London Underground staff cuts undermine passenger safety

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in All news, Employment, Europe, Management, New Technology, Occupational health and safety, Rail, Safety, Services |

The British transport union RMT has praised a driver who rescued a 12-year-old boy from a dangerous situation in London Underground sidings, and warned that the boy would have remained in mortal danger if the train had been driverless.

The news came as London Underground announced it would not be introducing driverless trains for the foreseeable future, although the idea has not been ruled out forever and remains part of its rolling stock procurement planning for the 2020s.

London Underground believes that technology currently in development could make driverless trains safer by eliminating driver error, but the union disagrees and was planning to hold a strike ballot if plans to introduce them went ahead.

RMT says its resistance has been vindicated by an incident earlier this week when the 12-year-old boy missed his stop and ended up in sidings.

The union also points out that the boy would have been spotted and removed at the final station stop  when trains were routinely checked for passengers at the end of each line before entering the sidings. But that practice has been discontinued, and RMT says it warned at the tine that “getting rid of detrainment staff was unsafe”.

As it is, the train’s driver found the boy trying to make his own way back along the tracks after managing to get out of the train himself. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“With [London mayor] Boris Johnson mouthing sound bites about driverless trains and de-staffing the tube at the Tory conference, yet again only the quick intervention of a driver in the North Sheds on the Bakerloo Line prevented a 12 year old boy, who had managed to shimmy up and over the ‘inner car barriers’ and out of the train, from getting hit by a moving a train or electrocuted on the rails.

“Management have rightly called an investigation into this shocking incident but this does not go far enough for RMT safety reps. We want a meeting to review the whole detrainment process and a return to a safe way of working.”

qpt | Quality Public Transport

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