Driverless trains

Driverless trains: a warning from Helsinki

The underground railway (Metro) in Finland's capital city Helsinki is due to go 'driverless' in 2016. I discussed this with Finnish trade unionists Jussi and Satu, and heard a story that has important lessons for London Underground workers and passengers trying to prevent the same calamity happening in London.

The proposal to introduce driverless operation on the Helsinki Metro was first raised in 2007. The trade unions opposed it (note that as city council employees, the Metro workers are members of the public sector trade union rather than a transport union).

Test Train Drivers Industrial Action Begins On December 1st

Following our test train members’ vote for industrial action, and having discussed this with our representative, we instruct our test train members to take industrial action by refusing to test trains being prepared for driverless operation. This action is to start at 00:01 on Saturday 1 December and continue until further notice.

London Transport Regional Council and branches to be advised.

Strategy Proposal For Fighting Job Cuts And Attacks On Tube Driver Conditions

As I understand it, the main current issues facing drivers are:

  • a clampdown on discipline and attendance
  • LUL refusing to confirm that Met line T/Ops only will operate the S7 train on the Met line
  • plans to deploy I/Ops on lines other than their own and/or to cross-train other lines' T/Ops or
    I/Os as occurred on the Met line
  • new drivers being repeatedly moved from depot to depot
  • the possible development of a pool of drivers covering a larger area than just one depot, or
    even one line

RMT Reaffirms Determination To Resist Automation As An Attack On Jobs

We note the correspondence from London Underground Ltd.

LUL’s letter confirms our suspicions that it still intends to increase automation in order to attack jobs and conditions, and we reaffirm our determination to resist this.

We further note reports that some testing of technology to facilitate driverless trains may have taken place at Wembley during the first weekend of November. We instruct the General Secretary to obtain an urgent report on this, and to place it in front of us.

Tube Bosses Claim There Will Be No Driverless Trains In 'Near Future' And State Changes Are Anticipated For Station Staff

We note the report of a meeting that took place yesterday with two Directors of London Underground Ltd. It appears that this meeting did not take place in line with our previous decision of 25 October 2012, and instruct the General Secretary to obtain an explanation of this and to place it in front of us.

We note that in the meeting, LUL stated that:

  • there will be no driverless trains in the near future
  • the Bakerloo line upgrade due in 2020 as yet has no agreed funding
  • it anticipates employing more station staff as the service frequency increases

Tube Lines Denies Plan To Test Driverless Trains On The Tube

“No plans in relation to preparing for the introduction of driverless train on London Underground” - Tube Lines

We note the correspondence from Tube Lines, stating that it has “no plans in relation to preparing for the introduction of driverless train on London Underground” and that “This is a matter for London Underground to determine”. We instruct the General Secretary to continue to press Tube Lines for information concerning its involvement in developing technology that may facilitate driverless trains or a reduction in the driver’s role.

London Underground Bosses & RMT Reps To Meet To Discuss 'Driverless' Trains

We note the correspondence from London Underground Ltd, and instruct the General Secretary to arrange for the appropriate officer(s) and representative(s) to attend the meeting suggested by LUL.

We further instruct the General Secretary to draft a list of issues and demands that we will raise at this meeting, and to place these in front of the GGC in advance of the meeting.

Any developments to be placed in front of us.

London Transport Regional Council, branches and representatives to be advised.

RMT To Meet With London Underground To Demand Assurances That Driverless Train Plans Will Cease

We note the resolutions from our London Transport Regional Council, and reiterate this union's complete opposition to driverless trains.

The main request of these resolutions – to ballot our test train and potentially other, drivers for industrial action – was dealt with by our decision of 25 September in response to a resolution from our LU Fleet branch.

RMT Evidence To The Greater London Assembly Follow-up To Its Investigation Into The State Of The Tube

As the largest trade union on London Underground, and the only union representing all grades on London Underground, RMT deeply regrets that no action has been taken following the GLA investigation into the state of the Tube.

In particular, RMT is deeply concerned that following the Union’s active engagement in the investigation, and the subsequent good faith with which we engaged the Olympics, that it now appears that our members are faced with an unprecedented assault.

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RMT To Ballot For Action Over Driverless Tube

“RMT reiterates this union's complete opposition to driverless trains. Every train must have a driver, to ensure the safe and effective running of the Underground." - Bob Crow

TUBE UNION RMT confirmed today that it is to ballot for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over plans to rip up the safety rule book and begin the testing of driverless trains on London Underground.

Initially, RMT will be balloting all members who are test train drivers but the union has also made it clear that it will be looking at which other grades may be called upon to test-drive units with a view to balloting those staff as well.