Deaths on driverless Washington DC Metro system expose lethal reality of automation plans for London Underground
TUBE UNION RMT today warned that London Underground are on the verge of plunging the Capitals tube system into the same lethal cocktail of safety cuts and automation that led to nine people being killed on the Washington DC Red Line service just over two years ago.
Today, the TFL Board will discuss a document entitled London Underground's operational vision, which flags up a future of driverless trains and destaffing of platforms and stations to save money.
RMT leaked the details of the plans last week despite protests from TFL that they were merely blue sky thinking. Only days later the same plans have been confirmed as the core operational strategy.
In the past week there has been much talk of automated systems already operating.
One such was the 35-year-old Washington DC metro, which switched to manual operation in the wake of a horrific rush-hour crash in June 2009, which killed nine people, including the operator.
The collision was caused by failure of the automated system, and the Washington Post called it the price of parsimony after numerous near-misses went unheeded against a background of cuts to maintenance schedules and inspections - exactly the same cuts-led culture now being imposed by LU.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
We need no more evidence of what happens when cuts-led automation and changes to maintenance are imposed from above than the tragedy on the Washington DC Red Line in June 2009.
The same lethal combination of cuts and automation is now at the core of LUs strategic thinking and RMT will mount the fiercest opposition to these politically motivated plans that have more to do with next years Mayoral election than they do with providing a safe transport service for London.
RMT has already exposed attempts to tamper with the inspection schedules for the failsafe tripcocks and other cuts to maintenance schedules. This dicing with death on the London Underground has to stop before we have a major disaster on our hands.