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Kings Cross Tube fire anniversary sparks union safety fears

Bob Crow claims management has been Bob Crow claims management has been "pig-headed". File picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Sunday, November 18, 2012
2:25 PM

Union leaders marking the 25th anniversary of the devastating King’s Cross Tube station fire today demanded the scrapping of proposed staffing cuts.

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Thirty one people died in the fire. File picture: PAThirty one people died in the fire. File picture: PA

Thirty-one people died when a fire on an escalator ripped through part of the station on the evening of November 18, 1987.

The fire was thought to have been caused by a dropped match and a subsequent public inquiry led to tighter safety standards on London Underground.

But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) claims that London Mayor Boris Johnson’s “threat” to cut station and platform staffing levels and introduce driverless trains would make the Underground unsafe again.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “We are here today first of all to show our sympathy and our condolences to the people who lost their lives 25 years ago.

Wooden escalators were replaced on the Tube: PA/PA WireWooden escalators were replaced on the Tube: PA/PA Wire

“I worked for London Underground 25 years, I remember that night still vividly.

“It could have been me travelling home, my family, my friends, it could have been you, it could have been anyone that particular night.”

Mr Crow said the recommendations made after the fire had made the Underground safer, as witnessed during terrorist attacks and emergencies on the Tube over the last quarter of a century.

“What we are seeing now is a number of people who want to reduce costs if they can,” he said.

“We can’t allow for the accountants of Transport for London or the Government to try and reduce the staffing and make it unsafe for London Underground workers and the people that use the Tube.”

More than 100 people were taken to hospital after the King’s Cross fire.

One of those killed was fireman Colin Townsley. He was posthumously awarded a certificate of commendation for his bravery, as were five other firemen who survived.

Smoking was immediately banned on all parts of the Tube after the fire and wooden escalators were replaced.

For many years, the identity of one of the 31 victims of the disaster remained a mystery.

But, finally, in January 2004, the 31st victim was named as 72-year-old homeless Scotsman Alexander Fallon.

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